GP appointments on the NHS are standardly 10 minutes. What can you do in 10 minutes? A lot as it turns out — if you’re experienced and have good rapport with your patient.
I was back with my GP yesterday as a follow-up to my original appointment to talk about workplace stress (blogpost: does yoga help with stress?). In our 10 minutes together we covered all the basic physical care stuff about eating and sleeping with a gentle but thorough probing into my mood via a check up on the interventions I’m employing. And then we got on to the workplace and how it would be to return.
I voiced a concern that I still feel so impatient. It’s a visceral thing: I feel it in the tension of my muscles, the panicky lurch of my stomach, the shallow breathing, the fidgety pull to be always somewhere else doing something else. My body is poised to lash out. I described literally sitting on my hands in meetings. Not that I’d actually hit anyone! But the feelings were really intense. But instead of reaching for a straitjacket, my doctor laughed. “But is that you or them?” she asked, suggesting that my response might in fact be justified! Well, there’s something in that perhaps, but I think that I would usually handle difficult situations more gracefully than I have been. She smiled again at this. Such yoga vocabulary! When did I begin to talk like this?!
So somehow her gentle scrutiny of the state of mind and body left me feeling as though I’m doing OK overall. I am handling the situation gracefully. Yoga has given me sufficient self-awareness and self-discipline to look after mind and body better than I used to: I run the self-care programmes even if I don’t want to; my self-destruct button doesn’t get triggered so easily. Being certified ‘not fit for work’ is something I can accept with some equanimity, rather than the feelings of humiliation and defeat it would once have provoked in me.
And while I’m away from work I find yoga is something of a diagnostic tool, a barometer of mood. Practice at the moment is a challenge. I find it hard to remain by myself on the mat. If I have my teacher’s guidance, I can practice. I obey the instructions I’m given as best I can. Even if the instruction is to relax! Left to my own devises, I strangely lack concentration.
So this week it will be interesting to observe the interplay of yoga and life. Can I coax myself towards compassionate patience through my yoga practice? Or will yoga practice reflect where my mood is? Of course it goes both ways. I just need to figure out the best way to practice this week — for me, and for those around me!