There’s nothing quite like a cold to bring you back to earth.
Yesterday I was standing on the peaks of both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains looking out over the exquisite landscape of mother nature in one of the most picturesque, winter wonderlands on earth (feeling literally on top of the world!), and today I’m flat on my back in bed with a snuffly nose, sore throat, and aching body.
I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, or a mountain, if you like.
Let’s face it; a cold’s timing is never good. It never arrives at a convenient hour. It’s always when you have that important event to go to, or your first day of vacation. My family are on holiday from Australia, visiting me in Canada at the moment. Hence the trip to beautiful Whistler yesterday. Yes, the timing of this cold could have been better.
Tomorrow I have an audition to attend, and it’s always that little bit harder to appear perky, effervescent and uber charismatic, like the perfect gal for the job, when you’ve got a grickle in your throat and a red rash around your bulbous nose, thanks to all the tissue-blowing, despite having tried to hide it with twice as much concealer and foundation than you’d usually use.
What’s more, the audition is at 10am which doesn’t really give my body much time to wake from the overnight doldrums and I fear that I may still look like the zombie I currently seem to be channelling. There are really only a couple of hours within the 24 of each day that one is able to carry off looking ‘normal’ when one has a cold, and that’s between around 12pm and 2pm. The rest of the day is pretty much some sort of variation of zombie-state, walking around in a head-on blur of mucus and blocked airways, craving release from both as though they were the undead.
At the witching hour, around lunchtime, when our bodies are in full digestive and energetic mode, mirroring the peak of the sun in the sky and the day’s activity, you’re almost tricked into thinking that you’ve nipped the cold in the bud and are fully recovered. That’s until the afternoon rolls in and the zombie symptoms set in again, slowly but surely, and you find yourself dreaming about being horizontal, somewhere cozy, like the patch of carpet beneath your desk at work, for example, which has never looked quite so inviting.
Unfortunately I’m not auditioning for the role of a zombie tomorrow, so it may not go so well. Wish me luck, people!
There are, however, some hidden advantages for the sufferer of the unsuspecting cold or flu which I’d like to focus on at this rather apt time of horizontal-ness for yours truly. After all, it’s so much more powerful to focus on the good, rather than whining about what could be improved. The latter often just brings more of what we don’t what, and isn’t really doing yourself or anyone else much good.
In a way, getting a cold is like taking a special little holiday. No, you don’t get a good tan from it, or visit some cultural haven, or feel refreshed, stimulated and invigorated, but you undergo a complete surrender of sorts; you get to take a complete break from the wild banter of thoughts that usually run, free-range and incessantly, through the mind.
This mental chatter is referred to as chitta vritti in the ancient text of the Yoga Sutras, and the experience of yoga itself is described as the cessation of these fluctuations of the mind. I put it to you that the experience of a cold or flu is actually quite yogic in that one is so overwhelmed by the bulging sinuses, rasping cough, and the sensation that one’s head has turned into a solid ball of concrete, that there is no space or time left for manic, meandering thoughts. The experience of being sick is so viscerally physical, that the mental has no choice but to take a back seat and shut up completely. Besides, thoughts don’t move too well through concrete.
I must admit that, in this very moment, I’m struggling to manufacture appealing and cognisable sentences. My head is aching and I suspect I’ve been vertical for far too many minutes. I’m gripped by the desire to lie down and do, well, absolutely nothing. To rest and to be. How many times in our lives are we graced with this desire – to do nothing?! It’s extraordinary. Almost enlightening. Many of us could benefit from a lot more time doing nothing. More naps, everyone!
That cessation, that void, that nothingness is what yoga and life are all about. The pause between the thoughts, the sounds, the actions, the breaths. Easing into our human being rather than our human doing.
So, on this first day of spring in the Northern hemisphere, I’m going to take a nap now, my friends and let my body continue its own little spring clean via the cold. Please feel free to indulge in one or many of your own naps today and this coming week. And remember that your cold, your sickness, your struggle, your own head-on moment that brought you back down to earth with a thud need not be the end of the world. It may just be the opportunity for a little moment of ultimate peace between your ears. Here’s to many more of them!
Until next time: Namaste, nappers x