For over three years, I’ve used this blog as a sort of meditation space, a place to work through the thoughts and worries and fears that were on my mind as I journeyed through motherhood. But this month in my yoga teacher training, we’re focusing on real meditation, the kind where you cross your legs and sit still and close your eyes and seek to find your highest self.
So maybe I should think it’s funny that this month, I’ve also come down with a weird and persistent case of vertigo.
The doctors have been called, the appointments have been made, and even though my primary care physician suspects it’s benign, I still have moments of panic that something is very, very wrong. I’m an alarmist by nature (or nurture?) but I’m trying to get out of the habit of cowering in fear when I’m reminded of my own mortality.
Meditation is about stepping back and witnessing your swirling thoughts at the same time as you experience the deeper parts of yourself. On the first day I came down with the spins, I was feeling great—refreshed from my yoga practice, happy about the oncoming weekend–and then the dizziness hit. Still, I was able to stay calm, sit down and close my eyes. I could hardly stand, walk, or read, but I was in a kind of subtle meditation on the way to the Emergency Room, and even while sitting on the hospital bed.
It was me doing my typical thing—trying to find the bright side, trying to adjust my attitude. Now when the dizzy spells come on, I’m using them as a chance to learn about myself. I realize how much I’ve placed my personal value in the ability to “do,” to accomplish things, to manage and work. I’ve had to face the question that even if I’m not capable of doing anything except sitting still in a hospital bed or a living room couch, am I still worthy of love and attention? The answer, I found, is yes. I’m important no matter how many things I check off the to-do list. While wildly frustrating, these vertigo spells are a chance for me to stop and take stock in any given moment and situation: Am I doing too much? Should I try to slow down? In the grand scheme of things, how important really is it for me to unload the dishwasher and pick up the toys? (Sidenote: this could all just be that I’m allergic to domesticity, since the spins tend to come on when I’m cleaning up around the house.)
The more I practice centering and mindfulness through meditation and my daily life, the more I see how generally absent it is in our culture. We are bombarded with phones ringing, text messages, notifications, emails, loud television voices, and endless amounts of news. (I’ll spare you my rant on 24-hour news channels.) We’re afraid to quiet our surroundings and move into silence and just be with ourselves. We don’t know what’s down there, what we might have to face. What will we see or remember? What will we have to reluctantly know? And how will that change us?
The more I meditate, though, the more I move into silence and stillness, the more I know myself to be good and pure. All it takes for me to connect to God is to sit still and be quiet, to witness what I am feeling and thinking, where I am emotionally and mentally on any given day. I’m human, after all, even though I’ve behaved on automatic for so long. I can get out of my own head, see the bigger picture, see the beauty in the world, and be present for others.
So yes, these days the world is spinning for me—but I guess it always has. The least I can do is try to stay steady and balanced.