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Pondering, ruminating and cogitating - Denese Rodgers

The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, defines the word "meditation" as "a devotional exercise of, or leading to, contemplation."

I am always trying to figure out how to fit exercise around job and life and meetings. So, I started doing yoga back in October, as a way to improve my focus and energy, and all that jazz.

The first thing I had to overcome was the fruity feeling I had. I grew up thinking that you had to sweat, swear, and win something for whatever you were doing to be considered exercise. Yoga seemed to be done in slo-mo, with flute music and candles.

Truthfully, I thought it was sort of sissified. But I was willing to give it a go.

It turns out that the first part you're supposed to do is to meditate. Me? Be still AND quiet? For how long? You gotta be joking.

So, I started with ten minutes. I could not have adequately imagined how hard it would be to stop and do nothing but breathe for ten whole minutes. My nifty online manual, www.yogabasics.com, literally teaches you how to breath while you meditate. So, I started by sitting and breathing, and felt like a total idiot.

I could get distracted by dust -- I swear, if Attention Deficit Disorder had been around when I was a kid, I would have been its poster child.

Then, I started playing frou-frou music and turning off the lights, and it got a little easier to be still for a long stretch. We're almost three months into this endeavor, and, at least, I've gotten myself up to 15 minutes of quiet time per day.

Now, you have to know, that although my body is still -- all those little voices are still careening around in my head, and they have some questions. If you nod off during the meditation (depending on the fluty background music), have you failed the process, or relaxed to the nth degree?

As fast as my mind goes, I immediately think of a dozen things that I need to do. Would it be cheating for me to stop and write them down? All the books and blogs that I read on the subject contain very esoteric, scholarly "isms" that don't mean much to a redneck chick trying to catch on. "Seek my inner peace?" Are they sure I have one?

I also had two other meditation-related issues. One is what to do about sneezing. If you sneeze in the middle of meditation, do you have to start over? Do you get points off on the quality of your session?

Also, can you get up and go put some socks on, so you don't keep sneezing? How about a sip of cola? Is that a no-no?

Another thing is giggling. It doesn't take much of anything to get me tickled. And for me personally, laughing is twice as therapeutic as meditation.

So, does that mean that by setting off my funny bone, I could get twice as much therapy for half as much time served?

Denese Rodgers is executive director of Connecting Henry, a social-services, networking, community organization in Henry County.