Thursday, June 10, 2010

Waking Up

I'm always amused that I when I sit down to "write" (like I did in college) I always think that I don't know how I'm going to hit a certain word count because I don't "know what to write." I just wrote my friend an email that was WELL over the 800 word count. I didn't even have to physically write it out first (as in pen/pencil and paper) in order to "get the juices flowing." It's probably because it was to a friend and I feel like she's an open and comfortable place to talk so freely that I don't feel like I have to structure my thoughts. They just come together, naturally.

This is a bit harder, at first. I knew what I wanted to say to my friend, but what do I want to say here for all the world to see (or at least those with internet access)? There a lot of thoughts roaming around my head today, which tends to happen when you wake up the mind :-) At first the commotion was actually welcome. There have been so many days during these past several months that I've felt pretty numb.

First off, a brief note about what I do for roughly 7.5-8.5 hours/day, 5 days a week at roughly 37.5 hours a week. I work in loss prevention for a high end retail store (think $1000 handbags and clothing, yes these things ACTUALLY exist). This means that the majority of my time at work is spent watching several monitors and numerous cameras for anyone who might try to steal. I won't say much more than that because it is a sensitive job and this is the internet. So, sounds exciting, right? Sure...when something is happening. When nothing is going on, it becomes mind-numbingly boring and you are left with only the thoughts in your head to keep you occupied. Some days I would swear that I could feel my brain cells dying. And then when something does happen, I have conflicting thoughts over it. I'm happy that we caught someone and stopped them from getting away with committing a crime, and that we did our jobs well...but I'm also upset that the satisfaction comes at someone else's expense. Because when things settle down, you realize that they're human, and that some of them are going through some pretty rough things in their life. I know that there are other angles from which to look at this. You could say that you're helping to stop them from doing things that are destructive to their lives--not to mention to others--and that you're forcing them to stop and look at what they're doing in their lives and how it impacts others. But I don't actually get to see that. It's a nice thought that can help keep me sane, but I don't actually know that's what happens; that there's any improvement in their lives. It's not a "mission" or goal of mine that I have to accomplish whenever I catch someone, it's just that I don't like to see people destroying their lives when there is so much potential in every human being. When I went to a prison during my internship in college (I was a criminal justice and sociology major) I was amazed, albeit horrified, at the ingenuity of people who often had no "higher education" but were highly motivated and had nothing but time perfect their skills.

Anyways, I guess it's the insufficient amount of positive human interaction in my job that tends to cause me a lot of stress. That and the isolation. The sitting in an office that is separated from the activity of the rest of the store, staring into cameras all day long. Though we are definitely encouraged to walk around the store, I guess I decided that wasted movement was the worst of two unappealing choices. But it also became very frustrating to keep sitting in a place that brought me so much dissatisfaction, so I kind of started shutting everything down.

Which is what I am now trying to correct through writing...which has made me remember the other reason for shutting off the mind--I think about a lot of stuff. I think about my life, the lives of the people in my family and also larger more macroscopic things about our society as well as "life" in general. All those thoughts running around in my head was one reason yoga became so appealing--it gave my mind a chance to stop moving. But it also felt like a part of me was missing. Of course, once I started doing more yoga, I also became more interested and wanted to know more about it: why we were doing certain poses, why we held them for whatever length, where it all came from, why it effected people in the ways that it does. Which, poses aside, is the usual gamut of questions that runs through my head when I think about the things I see and experience in life. I try to understand something's nature and how it relates to things at both the macro and micro levels. Sometimes I make some pretty interesting connections (or at least what I think are interesting and make sense to me); other times it's harder to see.

But, after many months of practicing yoga, an interesting thing has happened. The time spent looking at the cameras has almost become something like a meditation. I'm observing things about the people and things I see AND I'm watching my own thoughts as I'm doing it. It's also getting easier to determine which thoughts and ideas I should just let pass through my mind and which ones actually deserve attention at that moment. Like today, I realized that--for today--taking notice of this process was important because it made work more tolerable and a little more interesting. Being able to see a shift in my thinking was more important than what I was actually thinking about today. Thought I know well from experience that if there's something else in my mind that also needs attention, it'll keep appearing :-)

Now, on the the best part of my day: YOGA!!! Today was a Forrest yoga day. I'd been sitting for most of the day and I needed to twist and get some deep stretches. Anyone who has taken a Forrest yoga class knows that it can get Deep (yep, that's deep with a capital 'D') because you're in those poses for a long time. It's great because it gives you plenty of time to (A) get a stretch and create some new space, (B) you get more time to see how making a slight shift in the pose can totally change what you feel in the pose. Other times, the poses are more of a strength-builder (like being in Warrior 1 legs throughout several sequences) which challenges you to keep your focus without resorting to beating yourself over the head for falling short of your expectations when you do. I say "when" because it's inevitable: eventually everyone falls out of a pose. As my friend noted in her own blog (and as any good yoga teacher will tell you): learning how to fall with grace, humor and acceptance is part of the practice. Of course, the most important part is that you keep coming back but, this time, with more knowledge on what you need in order to be in a pose--to have a certain posture AND be able to breathe deeply while in it. I was very wobbly tonight. I have a chronic foot injury that has been acting up lately and it made several standing balance poses that are usually simple for me a little more difficult. I also noted a re-occurring and amusing thing that has developed during just about any ab sequence: my abs don't like to do any work, lol! EVERYTHING else will do work--namely my hip flexors, back, neck...face, lol--but the abs are chillin. We finish the ab sequence, people groan and clutch their stomachs; I groan and stretch out my hip flexors and try to breathe some space into my back--which, for anyone who practices Forrest knows that is the exact opposite of what is supposed to happen, lol. I'm discovering that, for right now, I have to do the less "advanced" option of the ab section in order to get the abs to wake up!

Another thing I love about Forrest yoga is how deep it gets me in savasana. Through my Mysore practice, I have come to learn that savasana ("corpse pose") is probably one of the most important poses in any yoga class. It's the time when you completely stop moving and let your body process everything you just did to it. Tonight was one of those savasanas where you kind of leave the room. where you can hear from a distance that the teacher is telling the class that it's time to move, but you don't actually register anything until you hear multiple voices end the class by saying, "Namaste."

On that note, I think I've more than passed that 800 word count (yep, definitely feeling like college, it drove my teachers nuts: "Good paper, but TOO LONG!"). So, I'm going to say, "Good night," for now and hit the bed for an extended that will hopefully last for at least 6 hours :-)

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