MEMBER JOURNAL: Learning to breathe and listen

I have renewed gratefulness for my 10-plus years of Wellness Center membership:
1) It is here I learned to breathe.
2) It is here I learned to know and listen to my body.

These two skills served me well through a recent cancer scare and surgery.

First, the breathing techniques learned in various yoga classes proved remarkably useful during my several uncomfortable medical procedures and their aftermath.

“Breathe,” I would hear Peggy Cappy’s dulcet voice in my head.

“Breathe,” I could hear Michelle say.

Breath into the needle sticks, into the uncomfortable positioning of the body, into the points of pain.

Breath into the waiting for the results. Just breathe. My body relaxed. The pain subsided.

Ten years of taking the varied fitness classes here, trying new moves, new classes, I know what my body can and can’t do. I absolutely know when I’m just being a lazy baby, and when I really should push myself to do what the instructor is suggesting. Or not.

I know what I feel like inside my body, and I know when something is right. Or not.

So when minor laparoscopic surgery turned into a little more than that, I knew during recovery when it was time to move and time to sit still. Time to rest and time to push things just a little further. I knew which muscles were affected and which moves—the common everyday moves like carrying laundry and sweeping the floors—could be attempted. Or not.

I knew what “well” felt like, and I knew when I hit it.

Most importantly, I knew when my body could get back to its fitness routine. I knew when I could push it a little, even though the doctor had given me a different guideline.

My recovery, I’m convinced, came easier because of my relative fitness level. Furthermore, being away from my fitness routine, I missed it. Missed it!? How many can say that of their exercise lives?

And, in hindsight, I now know in my bones that all these years of fitness classes and strength training and paying attention was really – and still is—all about practicing for the next set-back, the next health issue, and the inevitable day of unfixable ailments. We all age and die, after all.

I now know I’ll have no fear and I’ll be able to breathe into the tight and scary places, and just listen.

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