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Friday, 27 January 2012

Making time

Like many of you, I've been keeping an eye on Silverpebble and ThriftyHousehold's Making Winter bloghop. It's full of busy-ness: mitten-knitting, muffin-making, beeswax-melting, putting stuff in jars. Over here, though, there has been little making - unless we count the very basic job of feeding everyone (lately it has been VERY basic), and an incredibly rudimentary Rapunzel costume.

What I have been trying to make, however, is time. The last few weeks have taken a lot of energy, and the present is still very fraught. What we need around here is calm: but you can't make that on a stove or a sewing machine.

For me, the answer is usually to go back to yoga. A few years ago, when I had ME, I relied very heavily on the very approachable Elizabeth Irvine's meditation podcasts for mothers (she no longer updates, but all the archives are there to download for free) and the slightly less down-to-earth Jean and Jesse Stern. There are a lot of meditation podcasts out there, but some of them were a bit too New Age for me to handle - I can't honestly keep a straight face if someone starts calling me 'pilgrim'.

Picture of a candle that I didn't take
The thing about making time for yourself is being realistic about how much time you actually have. I'd love to go to a yoga class once or twice a week. Maybe I could go for a swim! And have an hour or three, lazing in a cafe, reading a book... I'm sure I'd be much calmer then. In the real world, I'm promising myself five to ten minutes of candle gazing a day, and a short yoga practice every other day.

If you've done yoga before, I'd really recommend these seasonal yoga podcasts, recorded by Sonia Welch, a very lovely yoga teacher whose classes are among my favourites when I have the time to actually get to them. The podcasts aren't really for beginners - you have to have an idea what you're doing - but they come with comprehensive notes on the postures as well as advice on the best food for the season (I never manage to eat the right food for the season). The winter podcast is lovely and gentle, and after making a habit of it for a short while I can feel the benefits. A bargain, I think, for £6.50.

I doubt that calm will ever fully be felt in The Coffee House. But I'm making an effort, at least.

Making Winter

Two final things:

1 If you do know someone with ME who is looking for a way forward, my best advice would be to direct them to the yoga teacher Fiona Agombar, whose book, CD and weekend retreat were among my lifesavers.

2 On a more trivial note, have you seen Blogger's new threaded comments (below)? This is the most exciting thing that has happened so far in my blogging year. Luckily it is only January.

18 comments:

  1. I'm going to take up your recommendations. I've been thinking about meditation for a while but have no idea where to start to look for inspiration. I started a running programme on new year's eve and have gone from ziilch to running 30 mins (interspersed with a few short walks). I wish I'd known the effects running can have on mood and energy levels. I'd have taken it up years ago and saved a fortune in class/gym fees! I think you're right about calm- it's an underrated state of mind.

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    1. I did try running a while back - I loved it too but my body didn't, sadly...!

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  2. Mmm, I tried meditation but suffered from the giggles (& that was without being called 'Pilgrim') but an odd radio station stumbled across by accident has an incredible calming effect on me & is guaranteed to send me to sleep or into a not-quite-here-mode, it's continuous birdsong...

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    1. When I was in Alder Hey hospital one of the corridors had a speaker which played birdsong at you as you went past: the result of an arts project with a sound artist. I went past it three or four times a day, and it made me unbelievably happy.

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  3. Oh how I love that note about the birdsong art project. Yoga is wonderful. And you are very wise to know that 10mins is a realistic amount of time to aim for. The most I can hope for at the moment is the 20mins I need to do the physio exercises for my bloody pelvis.

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  4. I just want to try out the threaded comments.

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  5. My mind is too busy to even think of meditation, even if I could find someone to teach me. It takes hours at night to sleep. I think continuous birdsong would help me to relax, I wonder where I might find it? I'm pretty confident that I could gaze at a candle flame for a while, is anything else necessary whilst doing that?

    By 'threaded comments' do you mean that one may reply to each comment individually if needed?

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    1. it looks like it. Oh, this is nice!! LOL ;-)

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  6. I am rubbish at yoga. it requires balance. the birdsong sounds good though, and I am off to look at threaded comments now.

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  7. Oh I found that bird song radio station too! Walking to/from school and real birds work for me too, I love that.
    I did a yoga course once where the teacher would say 'tran.....QUILITYYYYYYYYYY' in a loud and solemn voice at irregular intervals, while I was in the middle of say trying to get my legs in the candlestick position. I would just collapse trying to hide my laughter. Cheered me up no end.

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    1. There's nothing funnier than an overly solemn yoga teacher!

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  8. I am confused about the comments? Do they have unruly eyebrows?

    Why have I never tried yoga?
    I will try the candle gazing. Will fire gazing work too do you think?
    I've listened to birdsong radio. It works.

    http://www.silverpebble.me.uk/2008/06/10/a-new-pebble/

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  9. I am confused re the comments...do you mean to point out that they can appear here instead of a pop-up box?

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  10. I don't know about candle gazing, but I've done my fair share of navel gazing, does that count?

    Seriously, I would be lost without my weekly yoga sessions. My yoga teacher doesn't take herself (or us) too seriously, and is one of those people who just knows when you're not feeling at your best, and is able to offer wisdom or a big hug as required. She's fab.

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  11. Hello, I'm new to your (threaded) comment box, but wanted to say that yoga and meditation are great! I've found two things help me to remain calm(er) and that is to practice either of the above only when I have time or feel like it, rather than feeling a failure for not practicing every day for an hour and then giving up because I haven't done the specified recommended amount for perfect health. And the second thing is that when I'm feeling fraught and like there aren't enough hours in the day - literally slow down - eating, talking, moving, thinking etc - everything. It feels counter-intuitive but it does seem to work, and thats from a committed rusher. Just wanted to share that :)

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    1. Thanks! I think you're dead right about doing what you can, rather than what you think you should

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