week forty-six: soaking it up, sweating it out

photo copy 2My new thing this week was going to be floating down the Deschutes in Bend. But the weather was against us. Cool temps and thunderstorms meant I decided to stay at home while my partner went off to Bend to visit his dad and play a gig. Two days off with no plans and no distractions sounded almost as good as floating.

I decided to spend some time on self care, hoping to stem my growing list of minor aches, pains and problems. First came acupuncture with my regular practitioner. I love the stillness of the time spent with her. I love the way all my attention is pulled into my center, into my breath and how I always emerge a bit calmer and more grounded.

Then I went to my usual yin yoga class with one of my favorite teachers. As I stood in line waiting to sign in, I witnessed one of those moments that seem to happen more often inside the yoga studio than they do most other places. The admin person behind the desk asked the teacher how she was as she raced through the doors looking frazzled. “That’s a loaded question,” the teacher said. She laughed as she moved in behind the desk. Then she stopped, stood tall and still for a moment and said “I’m vulnerable. I’m open. I’m emotional.” She laughed. “And I’m here.”

When the teacher started class, she reiterated this scenario to all of us then broke out in tears. She asked if we would mind if she practiced with us since we were mostly regulars to her class. Of course, we agreed. Later, I thought about how rare it is that we give an honest answer to the question “How are you?” I thought about how wonderful it is to cry in front of a community and ask with simple openness for what you need.

The next day, I asked again what my body needed, what I needed. The answer was cleansing and kindness and touch. So I scheduled myself in for my first ever visit to Loyly, a Scandinavian-inspired sauna. I’ve always preferred hot water to hot air, but that day, breathing in the heat of a sauna sounded perfect. Sweating out whatever I needed to sweat out sounded like a good course of action. In addition, I scheduled a short massage to work on my perpetually tight upper body.

The place felt right: slightly industrial/utilitarian, simple and clean. White towels, white robes, red lockers. I sweated profusely. I drank tons of water. I breathed in to all the hard places. I exhaled and sighed.

The rest of the afternoon was spent reading while I ate a late lunch, writing while I drank a couple of early beers and watching a movie in bed until I fell asleep. My aches, pains and problems weren’t cured in a day, but it was helpful to find some kindness and ease. It was vital to spend some time alone, listening to the messages that have been buried under the summer heat and summer rush.

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