Sunday, July 29, 2012


I have been thinking a lot recently about mental health.  

And yeah, it makes sense, I am halfway through the psych rotation.  But I have also been thinking a lot about it in a lot of other, and more personal, contexts, as well.

On Thursday afternoon, we got out of work earlier than usual, so I left the hospital and went to a yoga class.

As I sat on my mat and settled in, breathing in and out, unclenching my jaw muscles, relaxing my shoulders down from their semi-permanent position up around my ears, I looked around at the space.  Warm wood floors, exposed brick, rustic ceiling beams, soothing purple walls, sunbeams streaming filtered through windows with light gauzy coverings, giving the room a soft glow.  Orchids, candles and small buddhist statues complete the decor.  Unmistakably a yoga studio.  But also simply just a really beautiful, calming physical place.  And what yoga does so well, at least for me, is protect a small bit of time to stop, breathe deeply, close my eyes, smooth out my forehead, and, even if just for a minute or two, remember that I have all I need.  Even if things outside of that space feel crazy and chaotic and stressful, I can sit and be still and know that everything is and will be alright.  Ceiling fans gently circulate the air, and with its movement, some of the dust from the outside world begins to lift.

And I just kept thinking how lucky I am to be able to come here.  Even if you are not into the whole yoga thing, I don't think there is anyone that would not benefit from a protected moment to be still and breathe.  I kept thinking about the Grady patients I've seen on this rotation.  How many of them could gain so much from the opportunity to come sit here?  Or any safe, calm, beautiful space?  And how unfair that those who need it most are oftentimes the very furthest from an experience like this.

So I am counting my blessings these days.  My many, many blessings.  I am blessed to attend a school I love and to be able to pursue my dream.  I am blessed with caring, supportive friends.  I am blessed with the most amazing family, and blessed that it is still intact.  I am blessed with youth, and with incredible health.  And happiness.  And a pretty damn good sense of humor.  And with the ability to find joy in life, even when life is less than perfect.  I have everything I need.  I have way more than I need.  And this is not meant in any way to reflect some sort of haughty pride in a "hey, look at how great my life is" kind of way.  It's just that something shitty just happened.  Something really, pretty significantly shitty.  And it's not the end of the world, and there are so many things that would be way, WAY worse.  But it's not a small thing, either.  And sometimes I need a little exercise in perspective, because I really do believe deep down that life is good, but I can also feel overwhelmed and in those moments it can be hard to see the long view, to keep in mind the fact that what is happening right now is but small a blip on the radar.  Maybe even something that is working for some unknown greater plan, something that will lead, down the road, to something better than I can even imagine for my life at this moment.  And so, when things are not going according to my plan, it is always good and necessary for me to sit, be still, breathe, go to yoga, pray, count my blessings, and re-learn to trust in the goodness of life.

(Don't you just HATE it when bloggers cryptically refer to something big and awful going on in their lives and then don't elaborate at all??  When I read stuff like that, I'm always like...... AHH WHAT IS IT???  PLEASE JUST TELL ME!!!  I want the story, I'm always dying for the details.  What can I say, I am also just really nosy.  Yeah... sorry, guys.  I have be cryptic for now.)

And, Dr. M, at the end of the yoga class?  I am not making this up... the song on the playlist was Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World.  

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