My mind needs rest.
We have no Thanksgiving leftovers this year. The holiday was happily spent gobbling turkey bagel sandwiches in the van between a long, hot run and a sneaky double feature at the local Prescott Valley cinema. What I am left sitting with these days, is some newly vacated space inside my head. I have not been sure what to write for publication lately. After a couple months of introspection and vomitous, often whiny, purging through blog posts, I feel tired, used up and empty. Pleasantly empty though, which feels weird.
Aside from a handful of moments when some despair has slipped in for a brief yet unsuccessful performance, my head has been pretty quiet the last few weeks, and also unusually spacey. I reluctantly admit that some of it has to do with the fact that I’ve been running again, because I hate to give running the power it has as medication for me, and I could easily find myself set back, re-injured again. But it’s absolutely been rejuvenating to get my heart pumping, climb some peaks, and soak in my beloved Arizona sunshine. More notably though, I realize that acknowledging and releasing all the gunk that’s silently built up cleared some space. I was scared of that emptiness, and maybe kept up the pretense of analyzing, fixing, re-analyzing, re-fixing to avoid facing the space that would be leftover if I let it all go.
BKS Iyengar, whose writing has hit me hard since first I began studying yoga, says in Light on Life, “An opening is like a doorway, and there is no such thing as a doorway that you can only go through one way. Yes, we are trying to penetrate in, but what is trying to come out to meet us?” Intense, observant introspection can be necessary and valuable for many of us, but maybe only to a point. OK, so I observe all these things about myself, I tell people about it, hoping, I suppose to connect and feel less alone. But now there is a space left from the purging and an opening for something new to come in. Surprisingly, I’m feeling my anxiety eased, comfort in leisure, and emptiness where there used to be a noisy, chronic hum. My mind needs rest.
“If we can become aware of [our] limitations and compulsions, we can transcend them. ” — B.K.S. Iyengar
Though it still involves effort, I feel less attached to the miles I’m building on runs and less unglued on rest days. I still can’t get out of a grocery store in less than forty-five minutes but the prattle in my head over what I’ve eaten, what I should or should not eat and what I want to eat has quieted. I’m back on meat; I ate an entire half of a gluten free pizza (ok yeah, I peeled off half the cheese) and washed it down with more than my share of cheap Malbec last night. Maybe the increase in running has induced it, but I’m hungry lately, and I want to feed. I want to feed my belly, but somewhat conversely, I want to feed the leftover space in my head. I feel okay filling it with novels and movies and daydreams but really I want to feed it with more space, more rest. Iyengar also wrote, “If we can become aware of [our] limitations and compulsions, we can transcend them.” I am thoroughly aware. But I think they are all OK. Sometimes I will run and run, and sometimes I won’t. Sometimes I will eat bacon and sometimes I will fall back on the safety of bananas and almond butter. Sometimes I will feel like writing dark, ruminative pieces and sometimes there will, thankfully, be none of that swirling around to share. IT’S ALL OK. In the vacuous mind-space of the last couple weeks I have been playing with haikus for shits and giggles, embarrassing, but I really don’t care right now. An amateurish free-verse poem came naturally out of one of the short and sweet melancholies last week. The point is, I freed up some space to breathe, to relax into and to see what might “come out to meet me.”
Today is our rest, restore and refuel day that I was curiously excited about. All I want to do is sleep and read and write and eat. After a week of summery weather here in Prescott, it feels like fall this morning. Colorful leaves dance around, blown about under gray skies and I suspect the trees along Whiskey Row will be bare tomorrow. Bare does not mean lifeless, though, as I tend to fear. The emptiness I’m experiencing is not negative or frightening, but a relief and a much needed room for refeeding, readjusting and rejuvenating.