Getting Back to What Makes Your Heart Sing

Posted On May 5, 2022

By Anne Postic

What do organized religion, sex after childbirth, and exercise have in common? Once you’re out of the habit, all it takes is one time to let you know what you’ve been missing. And the next time will be easier. The time after that? A little easier. Away you go, and before you know it, you’re looking forward to the thing you just couldn’t bring yourself to do. It’s so easy to break a good habit, but you’re perfectly capable of getting it back.

Once the world shut down, a lot of us shut down with it, myself included. I haven’t been to an organized exercise class since early 2020, which is why I was thrilled to run into a friend who pushed me to get back to yoga. To be fair, she didn’t push too hard, which is probably against the yoga rules. It was more of a gentle nudge. When I asked when we could get together (another habit that’s gone by the wayside), she suggested I come to a class she teaches on Saturdays. She also mentioned something about lunch after, and I love lunch.

Opening the class as yoga teachers do, with a nice little catch phrase to help with focus, Carlie said, “The mind screams. The heart whispers.” This gentle reminder has been on my mind ever since. Many of our minds have been screaming, and our hearts have been whispering so softly we can barely hear them. For the next hour, my mind was quiet, except for the occasional interruption, because my mind is still a mind. I stretched, flowed, breathed, and generally thought of nothing else but what was happening in the moment. Yoga will do that, since losing focus can lead to a tumble off of the mat, and it’s not supposed to be gymnastics.

Exercise, religious observance, and sex have something else in common. Barring the occasional intrusive thought (like what’s for lunch), one tends to immerse oneself in the activity at hand. Sure, I could have been practicing yoga at home all this time, but it’s hard to quiet the mind when you’re doing everything in the same place. Pulling out the yoga mat, I sigh because the closet is a mess. Halfway through that first asana? The dog is scratching at the door, which reminds me … we’re almost out of dog food and I need to go to the store. Also, my room is a mess and I need to tidy up before that Zoom meeting in an hour. And do I hear the toilet running? Yep, need to fix that asap.

For me, relaxation is a lot easier to achieve away from home, which has become office, exercise studio, doctor’s office (thanks to telehealth visits), church, school, nail salon and spa (confined to the bathroom, the only place I can really get away from it all), restaurant, bar and everything else. For the last two years, golf has been my only escape, unless you count the grocery store. (As an aside, I do count the grocery store as an escape, because I love cooking, eating and meal planning. There have been long stretches when I only went to the store or stayed home. Costco felt like a day trip to Disney World.) You can’t play golf or grocery shop at home. (Okay, there’s always delivery, but it’s just not the same, especially with so many supply chain issues. Choices must be made! And I love food-related choices.)

That one yoga class reminded me how much I enjoyed taking time to focus. And any fears I had about embarrassing myself after not having practiced for so long flew out the window. Who cares? Looking silly isn’t the worst thing; it’s certainly not as bad as being constantly berated by a screaming mind. As we enter the third year of a pandemic, it’s time to remember what we’ve been missing, and use our new knowledge about safety protocols to get back out there and do what we love. Maybe plan a nice meal after for motivation. Carlie and I enjoyed a sunny lunch on the terrace of a Mediterranean café, chicken gyros that neither of us had to cook, and lots of catching up. If you’re able to quiet your mind for a moment and listen, you’ll hear your heart sing for what it wants. Now all you have to do is get back out there and get it.