Dental Meditation

This week’s topic over in my Zen Pen writing group is Breath. And there’s nothing more conducive to practicing deep belly breathing than sitting in the dentists’s chair. Yes, there I was, folks, with 37 tools jammed in my mouth, the dentist cracking jokes and the hygeinist chatting about celebrity gossip while my teeth were drilled into oblivion. And how I managed to not freak out, was to focus on my breath. In through the nose, out through the nose, feeling the belly rising and falling.

Historically I never minded the dentist, but with spotty dental coverage and laziness on my part, I have come to sort of…dread the event. Not because once I’m there I’ll freak out, but just because I hate the fact that my teeth have gotten cavities so bad that I have had to get a root canal (during pregnancy) and that what I used to take pride in has gone by the wayside. I get to go back next week to have the other side’s cavities all filled up, so yay, I’ll get to do some more belly breathing meditation.

Have you ever found yourself meditating in a strange place? On the bus or in the dentist’s chair or in traffic?

Bread Dough Breathing

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Today was big for me. As much as I’ve crowed about my pretty good body image, even flaunting my adorbz swimsuit in the great Pacific Ocean, I have yet to go to hot yoga in shorts and a sports bra. The room is full of hairy-backed middle aged men, gumby tanned women who have, after class, proudly proclaimed their excitement to go home and eat a salad (true story), and a wide range of others, including a diminutive blonde with amazing dreadlocks and a girl who wore a sweatshirt around her waist the entire workout (wtf?). Almost everyone is stripped down to their bare necessities, but there has been one thing I haven’t seen: pale postpartum belly flab.

I was nervous in the locker room. I had brought a safety tank-top that I could throw on if I needed, but I decided to be tittsey¬†and just GO FOR IT. So, there I was, sweating alongside Sasquatch (seriously) and ashram-goddess-reincarnate. I could see my bare belly in the mirror, but from the distance it looked different than I’ve seen it before. My stretch marks swayed side to side, back and forth, in ardha chandrasana and sweat rolled down.

And, as we were lying in shavasana, the teacher instructed us to belly breathe. And I noticed this image in my mind, of my soft, white, doughy belly rising and falling…like bread dough. In the heat, dough rises, you punch it down, and it rises again. Takes the whole ‘bun-in-the-oven’ metaphor in a different direction. Rising, falling, baking in the warm room. Bread-dough belly breathing.