Illustration: The Magazine of Yoga
Observations of a Fifty Something Housewife
Sometimes the universe is trying to tell us something. We just may not be listening.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST MORA HECHT
I have been writing since I can remember; sliding letters of discontent under my parents’ bedroom door, editor of my high school newspaper, a copy writer for two advertising agencies, the author of articles published in small town newspapers and the recipient of enough rejection letters to wallpaper a bathroom.
And while writing and blogging, I fortuitously received an email from the editor of this very magazine to submit a column for publication. I was over the moon, giddy with excitement, yet perplexed as to what I could possibly contribute to a magazine with the word “yoga” prominently displayed on the masthead. But submit I did, and what seemed obvious to many, seemed to be eluding me.
Serendipity was at my door step.
Do you hold your breath?
I’ve got a secret.
I am a fainter, from way back. My first experience in seventh grade biology class began with a sharp pain in my gut and the next thing I knew I was spread eagle on the floor. I awoke to mocking laughter; completely mortified that my plaid pleated skirt was up, instead of down.
These episodes continued sporadically throughout the years. The causes varied from standing in line in a sweltering hot Jerusalem post office, to a crowded morning train into Center City, Philadelphia. After a turn on Space Mountain in Disneyworld, I ended up in the infirmary, and the “most magical place on Earth” became the most dreaded. By the time I saw a doctor, all my vital signs were normal, but I began to think my head was not.
Vasovagal syncope is the culprit; part of the nervous system that regulates your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing, among other bodily functions. This combined with an overactive vagal response and certain triggers can cause me to lose consciousness. Worried over what I was assured was benign in nature, it was suggested that I remain cognizant regarding my breathing, as in, don’t hold your breath, stay hydrated and lay down flat if all else fails.
A life-long shallow breather
Unfortunately, my anxiety only increased. Since I passed out on a train, I no longer felt comfortable on public transportation. Crowds made my heart race and palms sweat. I felt shamed and full of cowardice. But what I feared most was the embarrassment of drawing attention to myself, exposed.
I was an anomaly; I strived for balance, yet my equilibrium was off.
I developed unconventional quirks. I would only sit on aisle seats at movies or the theater. Forget flying anywhere, unless absolutely necessary. Once summoned for jury duty I was so petrified I could not eat or sleep for days, dizzy with nervous anticipation. I felt out of control, in fragmented little pieces. I feared my veiled attempt to appear normal would be discovered. I was a fraud, smiling and jovial on the outside, panic stricken on the inside.
As I grew older my fainting spells became less common, but the potential “fright or flight” reaction was always lurking in the shadows of my subconscious. In spite of this, I have experienced a life full of great joys, but with the caveat at any given moment the other shoe might drop or I might, for that matter.
A closeted claustrophobic heads for om
When my daughter was accepted to New York University I was immensely proud, yet overwhelmingly terrified. Coming from quiet suburbia to the big city, with its teaming streets and subways was nothing short of alarming for a closeted claustrophobe. However, wild horses couldn’t keep me from taking her to college. So, I sucked it up.
This brings me back full circle to The Magazine of Yoga, where I am a contributor, for a publication that has everything to do with health and well being. And my children, always enthusiastically supportive, asked me when I was going to give yoga a try.
Half heartedly I responded that I probably would, at some point, in the near future. I’ve never been much of a joiner.
But, the more I read, the more I realized that a power bigger than myself was trying to tell me something. I needed to be hit over the head, metaphorically speaking, to appreciate what was being handed to me on a bright and shiny silver platter.
I am contemplating this epiphany of sorts, and the doctor’s visit from years ago when it was pointed out that during moments of stress I needed to remember to breathe.
If ever there was a sign…I am going to give yoga a try. Who am I to argue with the universe?
Read Mora all month long, blogging with her pearls on, at Is Anybody Else Hot?
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.