My body, my mind and me.
Travelling makes demands of the body that everyday living doesn’t. Different beds, unfamiliar pillows, pollution, changing temperatures, breathing airplane air compressed and conditioned; and most of all changing latitude and longitude which means being awake at times when you’re normally asleep.
In the middle of the eleven hour flight from Copenhagen to Singapore when I couldn’t get to sleep and when my body wanted to neon light every discomfort it was feeling, I concluded it was mind over matter that was going to help me.
In the middle of “the night” when I’m supposed to be sleeping on the plane, my body says this slightly reclined chair with its thin cushioning, amongst the ongoing ambient noise of jet engines, the aroma of human gases rising and fading, and the blue glow of individual entertainment screens from passengers who’ve given up on the idea of sleeping, is extremely uncomfortable. And then to prove it, conspires with the mind to itemise each area – ankles, legs, bum, shoulders, neck – where there is discomfort and draws a convincing argument that getting any decent sleep is unlikely. Teaming up with the mind again, the body then hounds me with ideas about how crap I’m going to feel if I don’t get some sleep.
It was at this point that I’d had enough of this whinging mass of materialised stardust and decide to beat it at its own game by teaming up with the mind. This is nothing more than mind over matter I decide – game on!
Well not really game on. I prefer to be collaborator than competitor, preferring to move with kindness than beat into submission. So dosed up with kindness and another melatonin tablet, the body starts to listen to the gentle cooing of my mind and me as we chill out to slow breathing, moving the mind’s eye attentively around the body, releasing tension; and finding some semblance of yoga nidra.^
* * * *
So, at home Monday morning when the alarm sounds at 5.30am and the body wants to slip back in time to the northern European night that it’s been sleeping for the past three weeks, I’m determined to outsmart it.
I make myself get out of bed, get on my bike and ride into the day, into its sunshine and fresh air. At first I feel a little bleary headed, but happy. The sky is clear, the sun yet to rise and my legs feel an easy rhythm as they spin around.
Monday is a sparkling autumn day that opens with about nine degrees celsius and drops to 7 degrees just after the 6.10am sunrise. It’s cool but after three weeks of living in the cool Nordic spring, I’m confident with choosing clothes to keep me warm. Cycling nicks, with legs added, woollen socks, my new Nike Free shoes, Icebreaker woollen long sleeve thermal shirt and vest, Windstopper gloves, Snowgum woollen skull cap and I’m warm, comfortable and enjoying breaking down the jag of jet lag.
Movement, sunshine and fresh air are the ingredients my biorhythms need to align to where my feet are walking, where my wheels are turning.
I do the same the next day.
Being on my bike early in the morning helped me move through any jet lag that was waiting to grab me. Getting out of bed and being active required some discipline, a bit of mind over matter, but it was worth it to be in sync again with the timezone.
I still feel tired but at least I’m awake and asleep at the right times for this latitude and longitude.
And now everyone’s happy – my body, my mind and me.
^If you’re interested to explore further, Daniela Casotti has an excellent Yoga Nidra CD.