The Laying Away of the Dark

Such a morning this has been, beginning in the promise of darkness, for rising before dawn is to witness the laying away of the dark for the light.

I sit meditation, as I do every morning; I have come to rely on this hour of silence. This morning is not a sitting of insight but of “monkey mind,” one thought tumbling on top of another. It is a busy stillness. When the timer goes off, I mutter something to the effect of “that was difficult—again.”

Yet, something nags so I sit a moment in review. Ah, yoga dropped in near the end of my sitting, specifically my Peggy Cappy Easy Yoga for Arthritis DVD. I have owned it for three years; so far, it has been mostly a good intention.
Waverly Preening 0813

The yoga DVD dropped in during a moment of open awareness meditation, meaning my focus was on neither emotion nor sensation but on pause, a true gap between thoughts, before the emotion returned.

For some time now I have been sitting with the feeling of bittersweet, for the sensations of loss and gratitude swirl just beyond me. In this particular morning, I am in search of its energy but eddies of distraction, proven pools of fear, bring me to the surface of my breath, entangled in old story lines.

Once again, I do not reach the pure energy at the core of bittersweet.  It has been like this for a while, this sitting or almost sitting with bittersweet. In open awareness, I sense the light of the day, and in drops the thought of the yoga DVD.

It is not a surprise for one of the effects of this last lupus flare is a significant reduction in my physical activity, in particular taking my beloved morning walk. It is still a possibility but it is not benefitting me, as it once did. My joints ache to stretch but not to pound the ground, no matter the distance. In fact, I have spent the last two days recovering from a stroll around Waverly Pond.

And just as the Waverly story line started up, my meditation timer went off. That is what I remember from my morning’s sitting.

She Who Must Not Be DisturbedThe day is now more light than dark but there is not yet a sunrise. Feline EmmaRose is sitting meditation in the bedroom doorway. She Who Must Not Be Disturbed knows I will remain in the bedroom until otherwise directed.

As I have rested for two days, there is no body rebellion this morning. The physical stillness of sitting meditation is always a physical boon, for in meditation the body is allowed to awaken gradually. The yoga DVD is next to the decade-old television set. There is nothing for it except to insert the disc.
Waverly Posing 0813

I am familiar with most of the yoga poses, and Peggy Cappy encourages individual adaptation, much like Pema Chodron suggests meditation position adaptation. Yet, foremost in my mind is to stop the yoga poses at the first sign of discomfort. The thought is reminiscent of my early days with meditation.

For the first time in three years, I participate in the entire yoga session. As with the first time I stayed sitting meditation, I do not note the length of time nor its passing.

As I look out my bedroom window, the sun is high in the sky, shimmering off the leaves of the willow. An aquamarine vine snakes its way along the lower limb of a Ponderosa pine, reaching for the willow.

I remember many mornings, distant now but not really that long ago, when morning meditation was hit and miss, anything but integral to beginning the day. Then, I was determined to make each day fit my plan, and each day began with a morning walk. I smile.

A familiar feeling of surrender washes over me, embraced with total acceptance. The darkness of loss gives way to gratitude for mornings such as these.


On a Slow Boat to Fitness

“You may be a wonderful doodlekit” is the phrase that opened a February blog post a year ago, almost to the day. It was, of course, an unsolicited statement. In the year that has passed, I have not pursued whether or not I am or have ever been wonderful, a doodlekit or any combination of the two.

In that same February post, I considered my True Self versus my False Self (Mark Nepo) in light of having to cancel family travel plans and wondered whether I would ever be able physically to travel again. It remains a question but because of my progress this past year, there is a trip in the making. Whether it’s the first of many or the last, there is a trip.


In preparation, I have been increasing my physical activity, which is not to say the trip will require any rigorous hiking or extended walking. That is for most people it will not. For me, just being in airports will be an outing. Although I have made significant progress in mitigating my lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms, one of the reasons for my success is limited physical activity.

It is no exaggeration to say my exercise program began with walking around one room and then another, eventually graduating to short walks in a park with Cooper. My current recovery is in its third year, and now, my personal best is a thirty-minute walk, with most of my walks right at twenty minutes. Frankly, I’m delighted.

Heron on Turtle Row 0213

It may not seem like much but on my way to a level of health that is realistic after decades of disease, I appreciate progress in inches. As I have mentioned many times on this blog, the biggest advantage to chronic illness is that it keeps one physically in the moment, for no matter what occurs on one day, the next day dawns as if the previous day never existed. Frankly, I suspect that is true with or without disease but chronic illness provides a 24/7 mirror.

Having achieved a daily 15-20 minute walk for a month without any significant increase in inflammation or stress on my joints has me giddy with success. Now, I am attempting yoga. My introduction is through Peggy Cappy’s Yoga for People with Arthritis DVD. I highly recommend it.

While I have become accustomed to the fact that the line in the sand is in a different place every day, in my eagerness to begin every day anew, I have a tendency to be idealistic, my mantra in almost every project I attempt. Yoga is no different.

What I appreciate about the Cappy DVD is that it is divided into sections of different poses as well as warm-up exercises. In addition, there are great exercises for hands and fingers, perfect for anyone who uses any kind of electronic device. In the short time I have been doing these exercises, there has been a marked increase in my flexibility, so much so that I ignored the line in the sand.

Wood Stork at Waverly 0213

Rather than allow my body to adjust to the sitting poses and warm-up exercises, I went on to try the standing and sun salutation poses–Warrior One, Warrior Two and even Sitting Dog–within a few days my inflammation increased to a level I had not known in over a year. Not the fault of the DVD or any of the yoga poses just the False Self ignoring the True Self and each day’s line in the sand.

My bones and joints have taken a pounding for decades, first with one disease and then another, yet there is still an optimum level of health available to me. As Deepak Chopra says in Quantum Healing, chronic illness and aging have an effect on what that level of health will be. I see it as progress in inches but it is progress, nonetheless.

As I mark this first year of contemplating my True and False Selves, I have made enough progress to begin yoga, one pose at a time, and to attempt a cross-country trip as an avowed Uni-Tasker–one task, one moment. Maybe someday, a doodlekit….