Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Parade Syncope! And... Into the Pool!

Well, I had to chuckle when I heard back from my doctor about the dizzy spell that I experienced at our meditation sit last Sunday. Among other things, he said the symptoms I described--chills, dizziness, nausea accompanied by an unfamiliar feeling of panic are "experienced by another group of people who are required to remain motionless for prolonged periods--the guards at Buckingham Palace in London. The guards are trained to systematically contract their leg and arm muscles in order to maintain brain circulation. If this is not done, they experience so called 'Parade Syncope.'"

Useful knowledge, then. I'm happy to pass it on to other sitters, for their use. When feeling light-headed during meditation, contract the arm and leg muscles.

My friend Gary at ChiSphere has been after me to get into the water. He recommends it as a great form of exercise, and one that spares the arthritic joint pain I've been experiencing in my knee. I know that this is good advice, but I have been stalling--partly, I'm sure, out of sheer habit. I'm used to my daily walk and, when we're down in Laguna, my visits to the gym. The faces there are familiar, the exercises well known and often practiced. I am--like most humans, I suspect--a creature of habit. I do not like to wander too far from my comfort zone. So I have been stalling. Until yesterday...

I showed up at the Laguna Beach city pool and talked to the trainer there. I had been thinking to try swimming some laps, but the lanes, I noticed, were all occupied when I arrived. I'm not a strong swimmer, but I know that I have the basics to build on and that, like running--which I did for years--it's a mug's game. Put in enough practice and you'll develop more stamina each day. (It's those years of running, perhaps, that are taking a toll on the joints these days.) But I still thought it might be good to take a couple of lessons, and asked about those, too.

Instead, though, the pool attendant suggested joining the pool exercise class, which was due to start at that very hour. I hurried off to the men's changing room, slipped on my swimsuit, and was in the pool before I knew it. The class consisted mainly of women--mostly, I thought, a little younger than myself. They were obviously old hands at this, and were complaining that the water was colder than usual, and the sun was hidden behind clouds. Still, we were put through our paces unsparingly by an amiable coach, who stood poolside and yelled her instructions over the blare of bracing rock music, with particular kind attention to the single newbie in this class--myself. I needed a good deal of correction.

It was, I have to say, a full-body workout. For me, at least. There was a good deal of genial, inattentive chatter going on amongst the ladies, who seemed to like their torture attenuated by a little gossip. I wondered when the coffee would be served. All in all, though, it was a good experience, and it left me with enough surplus energy to venture into the now less crowded lanes to try a few laps. I was right about the stamina: I managed only three laps, with a rest between each. But I think I will be back to try some more.

Anyway, thanks to Gary for the gentle prodding. I notice the benefits of the exercise as I write, a not unpleasant ache in every muscle of the body. And less pain in the knee...

So much new to be learned, every passing day! They just go by too quickly!

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