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Yoga in Life: it doesn’t stop at the mat

We live in heady and miraculous times. The internet allows us to access wisdom and teaching from around the world and throughout the ages in a heartbeat. Yesterday was one of those days when I was glad to be borne of this century.

A little background for you – this summer I was diagnosed with a serious cardiac condition that has me off work for the foreseeable future. I’m on some strong drugs with some hardcore side effects but for the most part, I’m getting by. Recovery is slow but I’ve always said that any day on this side of the sod is a good one.

Every once in a while, however, I’ll get myself into a pickle and yesterday was one of them. My blood pressure will unexpectedly spike, leaving me dizzy, nauseous and with a horrible headache. It’s what I think of as ‘body panic’ because it can come on without warning and without any underlying sense of anxiety to start it off. Of course, given my circumstances, it doesn’t take long for me to get the mind involved. Anything weird happening in my body starts a whole cascade of questions which can eventually lead to full ‘mind panic’ as well.

It’s the classic case of the mind turning on me to increase my suffering. It’s not enough that I’m experiencing all these physical sensations but when my mind gets flung into the mix, I can make it much worse. Tightening up around the sensations increases the discomfort. Shortening my breath makes the panic more difficult to manage. I started off with a physiological issue and I’m now well on my way to a full panic attack – entirely generated by my mind. The fact that it’s self-inflicted doesn’t make it any less intense.

This summer, when I was in the cardiac care unit, I learned that 20 minutes of breath meditation did as much for my recovery as a shot of nitroglycerin under my tongue. Bonus points: meditation didn’t leave me with that awful headache. Yesterday when the ‘body panic’ started dragging my mind into the fracas, I knew if I could calm myself enough to meditate, I’d be fine, except I couldn’t focus enough to do it for myself. In meditation practices, the mind is often metaphorically compared to a drunken monkey for all its be-bopping around. Yesterday, my monkey was tweaking meth.

Thank God for the Internet!! After a quick Google moment, I found these – Audio Dharma — an online treasure trove of guided meditation audio files, available for immediate (and free) download. I selected the Body Sweep meditation and sure enough, after the 45 minutes had passed, the panic had left my body and I was at ease. I’ll consult my physician about this episode but what a blessing for me to have this in my “first aid” kit.

I was so grateful for the relief that I took a moment to send an email to the man whose words I’d followed for the 45 minutes. Leigh Brasington seemed genuinely surprised at the positive effect he’d had upon a stranger, some three years after he recorded it. Isn’t that the message of our times though? Our acts of compassion, generosity and kindness move beyond the boundaries of our families and our little towns to touch the world now. I’m sure than when he recorded that meditation and allowed it to be made available on the internet for all to use, he didn’t imagine that it would have such a lasting outcome, that it would comfort a stranger in a moment of temporary crisis. We don’t always see the fruits of our actions – for good or for bad.

It’s an object lesson for me. Today I will interact with dozens of people. Some I’ll meet in shops, at the medical clinic, at the credit union. Others will be ‘met’ on the internet, through comment boards and discussion groups. Many people will read this blog and I’ll have no idea of if I’ve touched them or how. It’s a sobering reminder for me to act with as much grace as I can muster. Like it or not, my words, my actions project consequences into the future that I will neither know nor understand in many cases. This is the Law of Karma.

Enjoy your weekend. Thanks for reading and Namaste,



About Kate MacKay

I'm a certified Viniyoga teacher, in Fredericton, NB. I was a 9-1-1 operator and emergency services dispatcher for 22 years. Surprisingly, the two worked well together, or as I liked to put it, from the sublime to the ridiculous -- all in a day's work. I'm currently off work as a result of a stress-induced cardiac condition that's thrown a few crimps in my lifestyle. I'm not actively teaching yoga in the classroom right now and probably won't for several more months. That said, this blog is one of the forms of practice I can do and I thank you for joining me in this exploration of all things yoga.

One response »

  1. i guess all we can do is plant some seeds! hope you are doing great kate!

    (i see u have a new format and background, i have been offline for more than a month. will read up on your other entries!)


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