Let me back up a little. My headaches had returned. The kind that you feel from your fingertips all the way to the temple. You can't turn your head, smells feel like they are tiny fighter jets that come in and use rapid fire to attack your brain stem, and even the most well meaning child becomes a creature to be feared. The room spins, the lights are hot, and no one else understands why you are angry all the time.
I've blamed gluten, sugar, stress, sitting, typing, you name it. There is generally some truth to all of this, but if I really wanted to cure the ailment at the source, I had to fix the muscles in my shoulders. That means the gluten and sugar need to stay at a minimum and the sitting and typing needs to be countered by a stretching routine. The stress...well there is not much I can do about that. I can't get rid of my job or my children. For whatever reason, our society frowns on that.
So the muscles. I'm not in a position to pay someone to fix them, and the world's best message therapist is a thousand miles away (miss you Jessica)! The only thing I could do was try to massage it myself. After more than a month of failed attempts, I decided I needed a yoga routine.
Fast forward. I have been doing yoga every morning as soon as I wake up. I started with just laying on my back and lifting my arms over my head and back down to my side. Do that a few dozen times and things start to pop and loosen. Each day I've slowly added more and more. It isn't perfect. There are cats and children constantly interrupting. Have you ever tried to yell while in child's pose? It definitely helps you understand how your neck muscles turn into lumps of concrete. And this morning I got stuck in "thread the needle" because a toddler was standing on my hair and giggling. But the shoulders feel more like joints now, instead of giant knots.
Back to that downward dog. My feet were pressed back, my hips pushing up, and my head was hanging between my shoulders. I felt my chest and shoulders opening. I reached back through the past decade of meditation and yoga practice and realized that the same determination I have put into ridding my body of the constant pain, is the same determination I have been putting into my writing. It is what drove me to join the writing support group, what drove me to seek social media groups for writers, and what allowed me to discover my new beta reading group (a small group of a dozen teachers who have been invaluable in helping me polish my recent short stories). I know that if I stop my practice, everything will eventually fall back. The muscles will tighten and harden, my posture will suffer, and my headaches will return. If I stop following these groups, and writing my blog then the writing will stop too. This sounds depressing, but it is life. If we stop doing, we stop being. For real, stop breathing, eating, drinking, and see what happens. But there is something even deeper than this.
When I first started meditating (almost twelve years ago now) I remember learning about the "monkey mind." The goal is to focus on the breath and let all thoughts drift out of the mind. The "monkey mind" is the string of thoughts that tries to push our minds into a game of hopscotch from one thought to the next. It creates stories that distract us from the present moment. But what an incredible thing! That constant battle with my inner stories is a gift! While it makes meditation an utter challenge, it shows me who I truly am. I am a storyteller. I will never turn it off, not in my deepest moments of mindfulness. I can let them drift through me, but they will never be gone. And that is okay.
I have finally found that peace I was looking for. The stories are allowed to flow and drift, I just need my fingers to catch them and give them form on the screen. What better way to empty a vessel than to find another one to catch the contents?
Thank you for being my vessel! Namaste