Sunday, February 15, 2015

instead of counting sheep

I am not good at counting things. Maybe it's because I am easily distractible, maybe it's because I am not oriented to details. I am a big-picture, eagle's view, story arc kind of person. I am just not inclined to keeping accurate track of small increments.

When I am trying to calm myself and go to sleep, I don't count sheep or breaths. Instead I pray, which usually ends up in me listing everyone I love, care for, or am concerned for. Somewhere along the long recitation of people's names, and recollection of their faces, I will drift off.

Now I am learning to run, and I have to run and walk intervals. I have a wristwatch that keeps track of the length of time for each interval, and also of how many intervals. An alarm sounds at the end of each interval, so I know when to switch to walking or running. I need only to glance at it to see how many repetitions I have gone through so far. Still, I have a way that I prefer to keep track of when I have done 5 or 6 or 7 repetitions. I use days of the week. So if I need to run 7 repetitions, I will call the first one Sunday and the last one Saturday. If it's fewer cycles, I will begin on Monday or Tuesday, always ending on Saturday. Somehow, "This is Wednesday," feels better to me than "This is the 4th of 7 repetitions." They seem to go by more quickly, and I associate the feeling of each day of the week, with the place that repetition is in my run.

In yoga, I am learning that breathing is a way to let go of distractions. Focusing the mind on the breathing anchors me securely in the here and now, especially when distracting thoughts beckon. One of the teachers at the studio suggested breathing in to a five count and out to a 6 count. Again, the counting. I find I tense up approaching 5 on the breath in. Will I have room for 5? Counting 6 out is easier. But to me, it's somewhat distracting in itself. So I choose instead to recite something old and familiar. I breathe in, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold." Breathe out "Peas porridge in a pot, nine days old." So long as I don't start thinking about what to cook for dinner, or reminiscing on when I used to read nursery rhymes to my babies, this is an easier way than counting for me to slow my breathing. Of course I use this only when I am still. During movements the breath goes along with the movement and position, and in poses, it goes along with growing, strengthening and extending the pose. No counting required.

I still lose count of how many scoops of coffee I just scooped into the coffee maker, or how many teaspoons of baking powder I just measured into the muffin mixture. I'll have to think of a way to move through those tasks without losing track.

It's a good thing my fingers and toes are attached, and I have only 2 children. (I think)

question: do you like to count?

mompoet - don't count on my counting!

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