Good Morning, Sensei
Behind the closed door, Sensei begins his morning mantra. It’s uncanny how he knows my eyes have opened. He chants boldly for several refrains, and then, thankfully, he pauses.
Lying spread-eagled, savoring the quiet, I twist my torso and legs to one side and then the other, testing how it feels to be alive today.
Sensei, louder now, resumes his chanting: “Eeoooow. Mmeeooow!”
Apart from his fixation on food, my cat, Sensei, is a mellow soul. I chose his name—“Teacher”—to remind myself to surrender petty irritations like the sound of his voice. But that’s easier some mornings than others. Today I rush through the bathroom and onward through the house, my mental beeline on the cat food shelf. Only food will shut him up.
As I stumble into the kitchen, my body awareness is left behind on the bed. Fascial stiffness is the natural result of eight hours of inactivity, and giving in to it, I paddle my legs and feet like a wooden old lady.
What Wooden Old Lady?
I know my body to be otherwise. As a septuagenarian I can forgive myself for being creaky in the morning. But I also know that moving stiffly--ambulating with the bare minimum of joints engaged--becomes a habit that can’t entirely be blamed on my bodily tissues. Habits take place in the brain. The more often I move stiffly, the more familiar and less optional that way of moving becomes. I can choose how I move.
I slow down. I manage to tune out the cat.
Ah, now I can call up a walking rhythm that evokes fascial resilience in my body. I choose to feel my body’s weight and substance. I remind my soles to sense the floor; remind my ankles and toes to bend. That’s better--a little “give” to my footsteps loosens up my hips. I enjoy the light streaming in through the windows and that sparks my peripheral vision. My narrowed, defensive perspective softens. My chest uncoils and I inhale. I choose to open my body to the day.
Relax, Sensei. Your food is coming.
Posture and Movement are Choices
Recurrent irritations can become calls to awareness. Maybe some pet peeve of your own, like Sensei's caterwauling, can become an opportunity to find and re-find your own center, your own rhythm. We need all the centering practice we can get in this crazy world.
© 2016 Mary Bond