It happened again the other night as we finished our body flow class. This is a mix of yoga and tai chi that always ends with five minute of meditation. As soft music played, we settled on the floor, our hands loose at our sides, our eyes closed, and that’s when I began to hear it — the scuffle, scuffle of a few women rolling their mats and grabbing their sneakers.
Sneaking their way out of relaxation.
I cracked one eyelid to peek, and sure enough, about three women were tiptoeing away from their personal Zen moment like parents trying to sneak out of a sleeping child’s bedroom.
For real? Yeah, because it happens at the end of every class. Most of us after stretching and twisting into poses like scorpion or downward dog — or doing even crazier things like flipping the dog (No, this is not that same as flipping the bird.), are all too happy to rest quietly for five minutes. Breathing in and breathing out.
Five whole minutes of forgetting about our cares in the world, the ice on the road, the homework we have to supervise, the dishes yet to be washed. It’s a much-needed adult time out.
I love it for two reasons – the beginning of meditation means the end of the hard stuff. I have survived every crazy twist-fold-stretch, unbend-the-paper-clip I have asked of my body in the past 55 minutes. Once again, I cheated inflexibility, inertia, and that inner voice that says, “Didn’t you go to the gym already during this lunar cycle?”
I also just love to meditate. I’m weird like that. A few weeks ago, I was so relaxed it was like I could feel the universe crack open to give me a personal love-filled message. The world was good. People were good. I could embrace these truths.
“Far out,” my boyfriend said.
Far out, indeed. My head felt clearer and that spot of tension that hangs on my neck like an ill-fitting backpack disappeared.
So, why is it that people avoid meditation?
Do they find it creepy? Or embarrassing? Maybe it seems to germ filled – we are stretched out on the floor after all. Of course, we are on mats, the same mats we have twisted on all throughout class. Mats we brought ourselves … so that argument doesn’t really work. Are they worried they would fall asleep? Drool? Pass gas?
Maybe they just don’t think they can relax with all those people around them. Or maybe they just don’t know how to stop moving and be still.
Sometimes at the end of vocabulary class, I used to let the 7th graders read for five minutes. Sometimes before we even got started on the lesson, I made them pull out a book and read for 10 minutes. A lot of the girls loved it. But there were always one or two or sometimes three who didn’t, who just thought it was a real pain in the neck to stop what they were doing and read.
“Do you know how many adults would be thrilled to have ten extra minutes in their day to read?” I asked them
They looked at me with that yeah, yeah look. I suspect they wouldn’t like to meditate either.
I have been that person who doesn’t want to stop, who wants to keep going, to keep writing, to keep working, to go, go, go. It’s also true that at points in our life, like grad school or when there is a new baby in the house, the moments to read for 10 minutes don’t exist, and meditating would exactly equal sleeping. With or without drool, but probably a lot of snoring.
But life is just so much better when we have a moment to breathe. We know it and we sometimes resent it when our to-do list is massively long — but that doesn’t make that fact any less true. Life is better when we have a moment to breathe.
In a few hours, I am going to a body flow class again, and at the end of all the stretching, I am going to embrace the meditation and those five minutes of calm. And when I return to work this week, I might just slip a book in my school bag. Just in case.