Sunrise Yesterday Morning

Gentle. For me, now, it is all about being gentle. It is a new and difficult lesson to learn. I have finally gotten a trainer that understands special needs of  elderly out of shape clients. She is working with me in a helpful way. My marching orders are to exercise in the pool with the arthritis aquatics group——but not to do what will hurt my shoulder, back, or knees and to go “slow and gentle” on what I do in the class.

I was not looking forward to the group. Almost everyone looks older than me, and they are able to do all the exercises. I was embarrassed because I thought they’d all think I was either lazy or not too bright.

To my delight no one looked at me strangely. One man who never smiles actually smiled at me. The biggest surprise was how good it felt when I finally surrendered to being gentle on myself. The water was warm and soothing. There was no straining, no hurry, no competition. A couple of times my gentle movements almost lulled me asleep. And, to be honest, a few times I could feel my body telling me to back off and try something else. When others were doing what I shouldn’t be doing I was able to  just “walk in the water.” This morning’s adventure proved to be both gentle and a workout that left my body tired as it climbed out of the pool. My muscles didn’t want to climb those stairs.

My trainer told me to put at least three days between my “work out days.”  This means working out twice a week, and,  due to when the class is offered, having  3-5 days between gym visits. That will take some getting used to without feeling “lazy.” Again, I remind myself, “be gentle.” I’ve also been given some simple leg and thigh exercises to do daily at home (gently) that should eventually give me the ability to be able to do more with my legs in the pool.

Today’s  tired but relaxed feeling is in sharp contrast to what I was feeling yesterday morning.  Yesterday  wasn’t a relaxed day for me.  The blood pressures I’d been taking at home for several days were dangerously high, and when I called my doctor they wanted me to immediately come in to be seen. In the doctor’s office my blood pressure was 145/85. That is high, but not dangerously so.  I had brought my blood pressure machine from home just in case my machine was malfunctioning. Much to my chagrin my doctor had to point out there were computer icons at the bottom of my blood pressure machine’s screen when it was turned on.… of which meant my machine’s batteries were dead.  I’ve never before felt quite as stupid and relieved at the same time. I learned to take blood pressures sans computer so I wasn’t even looking for icons giving me dire messages.

The best news about being gentle to myself this morning was when I got home from exercising  and took my blood pressure ( with a machine powered by  new lithium AAA batteries)  it was down to 124/78 and my pulse was down to 80. These levels are much better than I’ve been getting even with equipment that works, so being “gentle” to myself is already impacting my health.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? The obvious one of course is the physical benefits of being “gentle.” However, I think I need to apply this lesson beyond the obvious. If I quit driving myself, pushing myself, competing (with what?), expecting myself to do everything perfectly like I seem to think everyone else does and start, instead, to slow down and live more mindfully I think it will have tremendous payoffs. This morning’s experience will just make that a bit easier. I need to relax and let the sun come out.