12:13am. March 28th 2014. My first night out of my 14 day stint at the hospital. At my mother’s home. In bed. Leia, my dog child by my side.
How I’m feeling: Tired but restless. Stomach is in serious pain from all of my meds but pain meds are starting to kick in.
On March 2nd, a good friend of mine Jill and I were firming up plans to meet up for a coffee at a close by cafe later on in the week. I had expressed to her that I was having a rough day and it prompted her to invite me to a meditation class. As I read her invite, I was already thinking of an excuse to not be able to make it. And then I smartened up and reminded myself that I was supposed to be trying to make an active effort towards investing in myself – and just myself.
In the past, I’ve had a difficult time with meditation and while I had felt that I’d already given meditation a fair and long chance – and failed at it, I was at a moment of desperation to save myself. I was so hurt and in distraught from the breakup. At this point, I was open to everything and anything that would help put me back in to one piece. And so, I decided to give another meditation class a shot. After all, nobody really ever “perfects” meditation. I had nothing to lose and only much to gain.
The class was at Downward Dog, taught by Josh Cohen – and I had arrived earlier than Jill did. I went up the stairs and it was immediately clear that I was a newbie. I had a bajillion questions, was the only one without a yoga mat, was wearing badass leather lace-up heels and sported a tight body suit I sometimes wear for dance rehearsal. Once I found the studio room, I had to look to see what everyone else in the room was doing to help me figure out how to set up my own sacred meditation area. I had no F&%$ing clue what I was doing. My friend arrived just as the class was getting started, parked herself in a snuggly spot right beside me and then gave me a “You’re going to be ok” nod. I think she may have seen the tears in my eyes.
I was having a really tough time pushing out past and future thoughts and focusing on present, but I was successful enough to notice that something was wrong. As in, at that very moment. I spent a good portion of the class trying to figure out if the problem was physical, mental or emotional – and I couldn’t quite pin point it. About halfway in to the class, I was able to focus on nothing else but everyone else’s breath. Once I figured that out, I aimed that same focus towards my own breath. Something was off. It sounded and felt as if with each inhale and exhale, my breath had to fight it’s way through bushels of grass and weeds lodged somewhere deep down in my throat. No matter how many breaks I took to sip on water and pop some lozenges, it wouldn’t go away. It was something and somewhere much deeper. A series of dry coughs immediately and uncontrollably followed whenever we would be instructed to move in to a pose that involved being horizontal. It was distracting to me – and perhaps for others. I was starting to really annoy myself. In some instances, I had to sit up and not participate in the exercises while I coughed it out in the corner. Something was wrong. I popped more lozenges in my mouth and drank more water – then powered through the session.
After the session, I thought to myself “What the %#$& was that?! Man, that was rough. Like, REALLY rough” I’m a very physically active person and so it really surprised me that I was winded from just trying to breathe. I took away a handful of lessons about myself and of the meditative practice from that one Downward Dog Meditative/Restorative session. But one of the takeways was that I had to get whatever was going on with my cough and throat checked out by my doctor soon. More on that later.
I am now practicing meditation on a regular basis and it has gotten me through some tough moments over the past few weeks – including some painful and bloody scenarios at the hospital and in E.R. Try out Headspace and challenge yourself to the 10 day meditation challenge. I found it really tough (and still do) – but go ahead and try it for yourself. I don’t care who you are and how busy your life is, you have 10 minutes a day to do this. My best friend Claudia recommended it to me. Thanks, bud.
Special thanks to Jill for giving me the timely nudge I needed to give meditation another shot. I truly believe that that this one class helped me to listen to my own breath. I needed to hear and feel it the way I did at that moment to really notice that something was not right. And things certainly were not. I’ve learned that this cancer had been growing in my for at the very least a year – which freaks me out a bit. After multiple attempts at trying to meditate, I wasn’t able to until this very class. Perhaps, things weren’t meant to start to reveal itself until this moment. It was this session that helped me to re-connect with myself and really listen in.