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Meditation in the MRI Machine
12 October 2018

Meditation in the MRI Machine
12 October 2018

Meditation in the MRI Machine

I'm just back from DHMC, where I spent an hour in the MRI machine having my brain scanned for any hint of a tumor regrowth. I'm 7 years out from surgery, and I don't actively worry about this tumor coming back, because statistically, they rarely do. Not actively worrying doesn't mean that worry doesn't lurk in the wings, however. Judging by last night's dreams, worry was alive and well in my sleeping brain right up until my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning. Still, it wasn't until the doctor at my follow-up walked in with a wide smile and declared my scan "pristine" a few hours later that I felt my whole being truly let go of the murmurings of anxiety that have been tugging at me for the past couple of years.

Funnily enough, my time actually in the machine was quite lovely and peaceful. There is raucous, jackhammering noise throughout, but it kind of drowns out the tinnitus that otherwise can distract me when I'm meditating. And that is what I do in the machine, from the very first brain scan back in 2011—meditate. I can't escape the noise, so I employ a technique that I use daily to manage my tinnitus: I go right into it. I dive into the center of that sound and I let it permeate me. I envision the sound saturating and illuminating my brain tissue to expose what is there. My defenses drop, I am open, and I let myself be seen.

In that space, I feel simultaneously entirely vulnerable, and entirely safe.

Even though I meditate daily, I consider myself a beginner. As with yoga, I would like my practice of meditation to be a place where worry drops with a thud at my feet, leaving me free to reside in a place of unbounded awareness. But there is a lot of junk that clings stubbornly to my psyche. Meditation for me includes a fair amount of mental wrestling.

This morning, right before I went into the tube, I remembered that part of letting go is not pushing away whatever arises. Letting it have its voice helps weaken its hold. This process is so much easier within a physical practice, like yoga asana. Moment to moment, a physical practice demands our focus, persistence, attendance. The mind is given task after task in partnership with the body. At the very least, worry is temporarily muted. With a really good practice, the effect has staying power. I'm finding as I get older, that the effects of meditation have even more staying power. To me, they will always be companion practices.

Whatever your practice, yoga, meditation, contemplative traditions of all kinds:

Be Soft in Your Practice

Be soft in your practice, think of the method as a fine silvery stream, not a raging waterfall. Follow the stream, have faith in its course. It will go on its way, meandering here, trickling there. It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices. Just follow it. Never let it out of your sight. It will take you there.




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The building itself was renovated to be energy efficient, and the room is moderately heated in cooler seasons to promote a good, healthy sweat, but not heated to an excessive or wasteful degree. There are cubbies in our large office to store your personal belongings, a spacious changing room, a comfy sofa and a water cooler (please bring a water bottle to fill, to cut down on paper cup usage). Two nice, clean bathrooms are located just down the hall. There are also cubbies in the studio itself for valuables, which students are welcome to use. We have a full lending library of yoga books, and encourage students to borrow freely. Gift certificates are available for purchase in any amount.

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Please do not wear perfume or any strong scent

People with allergies can be very sensitive to scent. Also, lots of people sweating in a closed space is less stinky than lots of people all wearing different brands of perfume or deodorant.

Wear comfortable clothing

Not so tight it binds, not so loose it gets in your way. And please do not wear clothes that “gap” and are inappropriately revealing.

Practice on an empty stomach

If possible, don’t eat at least three hours before practice. If you know that this isn’t possible for you, eat easily digested food one hour before class.

No food or outside beverages inside the studio

If necessary, bottled water is okay, but remember we are trying to generate internal heat; constant sipping cools the body. After practice, drink plenty of pure water.

Bring your own mat

Shared mats are not hygienic; you may borrow one from us if one is available, until you are able to purchase your own, but please clean it afterward with the mat wipes provided. Please understand mats may be borrowed on a first come basis….we have only a few to borrow, and do occasionally run out of them.

Keep your eyes on your own practice

The practice is richer when it happens from the inside out. It’s not about comparing yourself with the person next to you. Be present with your own experience.

Be kind and loving to yourself

Rest when you need to. Honor where you are in your practice. Use the energy of those around to inspire, not diminish, you. Remember: you are perfect just as you are now, and yoga is meant to enhance that understanding and let that perfection shine. Have fun!

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Newcomers! 3 for $30

If you are new to Upper Valley Yoga, you can purchase a 3-class pass for $30! (For our first-time guests only, package expires 15 days after purchase)

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Drop in to any regular weekly class

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5-Class Pass, Student or Senior* Rate, $70

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*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

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Unlimited yoga. 6-month commitment is required; early cancellation fee of $50 applies if the auto renew is canceled before 6 months. This is the best value if you plan to attend at least 2 classes per week.

One month, unlimited, $150

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

One month, Student or Senior* rate, $140

Unlimited yoga with no commitment required.

*Full time high school and college students, Seniors 60+

3-Month Unlimited, $390

Unlimited yoga, 3 months

If you don’t yet have a mat, borrow one from us and please clean it afterward with the mat wipes.

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