by Linda Nansteel Lovell
I’ll admit it: I’m a novice at yoga and even more of a novice at meditation. Nonetheless, I have become a major proponent of both. Here’s why. Both practices have brought me back to the basics…to things like breathing and stretching and relaxing and enjoying the world around me. After a lengthy career in the world of non-profits and an even longer stint as wife, mother and grandmother, my mind and body were constantly whirling. I never could seem to unplug from the news and the chaos. Mind and body rebelled, in the form of assorted problems. My doctors were unanimous in recommending exercise. Unfortunately, however, I have a life-long habit of injuring myself in the name of good health. (For example, I loved Richard Simmons’ “Sweating to the Oldies,” right up until I developed tennis elbow from “Bus Stop Wendy.” I joined a gym and developed iliac-tibial band syndrome. I used to love to walk, but even special shoes can’t counteract Plantar’s fasciitis enough to allow me that simple pleasure. There’s more, but I’ll spare you.)
I was pretty desperate about four years ago when one of my doctors recommended yoga and gave me two books on meditation. Screwing my courage to the sticking place, as Shakespeare would have it, I called a local studio and embarked on a life-changing course of extra gentle yoga. Within the first month, I was a different person – calmer, more focused, more balanced (literally as well as figuratively), and more flexible. Notice that I didn’t add “sleeping better” to the list. That didn’t happen until I added daily meditation to the mix six months ago. That has made a difference in my energy level, my mood, my ability to cope with stress, as well as my sleep habits. That’s not to say that I still don’t have an occasional bout of insomnia – I do. But instead of lasting for weeks, it now may last a night or two. At my check-up a week ago, my doctor told me point blank to continue whatever I was doing, that it was working. If that doesn’t say it all, I don’t know what does!
(Ms. Lovell will become a member of the RCM board later this year.)