Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Groaning Into Existence

I have a confession to make: over the last two years, I've taken to groaning when I wake up.  I say "taken to", as though I've made some sort of decision in the matter to growl like an animal as the sun rises, but the truth is at some point I just started doing it.  And to be clear, I'm talking about a strong yawn  here; this is full on, loud, extended groaning -- somewhere between "I have a terrible stomachache" and "I'm having a baby."

Maybe it's a response to years of sleeping alone, a sort of reflex to let myself know I'm here. Or maybe it was my own personal welling up of Paul's "creation groaning in the pains of childbirth" (Romans 8:22).  More likely, though, it's just my body trying to push itself out of the tightened cocoon of shrunken muscles and sinews.

For many years I practiced yoga. And one of the great revelations of that practice was always how much taller I felt at the end of a session. Teachers often talk about the practice in terms of "creating space" between bones and within the body, and in fact so much of yoga involves stretching up, out, over or across, you really do improve your posture and create a sense of space within yourself.

My morning moans tell me I should probably return to my practice (and also drink a lot more water -- hydrated muscles are looser muscles). But there is something oddly physically satisfying about that act of groaning itself. It's like I'm pulling myself up out sleep or throwing off the reality of my dreams like you would a thick, heavy comforter and pushing myself back into life.

Of course, the poor men who have to live beside me and below me probably have a different perspective entirely.  


Shelly said...

Glad you're posting again! Hope your summer was wonderful. Hey, I thought of your post as I led a yoga practice last night. In yin yoga when students come out of long-held poses, I encourage them to be aware of thoughts and sensations that arise -- have you considered what thoughts and sensations are there when you are "groaning into existence"?

Jim McDermott, S.J. said...

Great question, Shelly. I'll try to pay attention for that. I'll bet there's something really useful there!

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