It’s been a busy week.

I decided to do a bit less routine cleaning, and a bit more decluttering, since the decluttering should last a bit longer. I started on the messy shelves in the hall, got enthusiastic, and spent hours on it. I’ve even ordered some more shelves, which should arrive in about a week.

I went to a funeral on the other side of the island. It was all the sadder for being totally, jaw-droppingly unexpected. But I’m glad I made the effort.

It made me very thoughtful, and I know I’m not the only one. The only conclusion I’ve come to is that it’s important to seize the day and not drift along. As Steve Jobs said, “Live each day as if it would be your last and one day you’ll certainly be right.

And the next morning I got an appointment for my routine mammogramme. Since mum died of breast cancer, I find it hard to keep mammogrammes in proportion. It’s not that I’m a nervous wreck, you understand, just that I get the odd icy finger running down my spine. Getting the appointment just after being so forcibly reminded of human mortality was not ideal, and I had to remind myself that plenty of people had far, far worse problems, and the chances were that there was nothing t worry about anyway.

I was still rather down when I went to my yoga class that evening. We started normally enough, with stretches. Then the teacher started talking about mantras.

Mantras mean different things to different people. In this case, you repeat a specific sound, which a) helps you concentrate on what you’re doing, rather than worrying about whether you have enough onions to cook a frittata for dinner and b) creates physical vibrations which massage a part of your body — the part that vibrates depends on the sound.

Which all sounded pretty good.

And then we started with the sheep mantra. Basically, you go “baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” like a sheep, and everyone does it at their own natural breathing rhythm.

So we started. If I’d started first, I might have been able to concentrate on my own sound. As it was, the baaaaaaaa-ing started while I was still filling my lungs, and I got the giggles.

Everyone else was meditating, so I tried to giggle silently.

It was like school. The more I tried to stop, the worse it got. The giggle got steadily more hysterical, and every time I thought I was getting it under contral, I’d hear another “Baaaaaaaaa!”, or the teacher would giggle from watching me, and I’d be off again, giggling helplessly.

This wasn’t fair on everyone else, so I left the room until I could act more like an adult.

When I went back, people were talking about how the mantra affected them, and they’d all found it relaxed their throat wonderfully. I apologised profusely, but they didn’t seem that bothered. And the teacher said laughter is also very good for you, with a ton of health benefits.

Well, I certainly felt better. In fact, I hadn’t realised how tense I was until I wasn’t tense any more.

And today the mammogramme was perfectly normal.

Now I just have to make my first ever batch of meringues for my son’s school’s Canary Day party. Finger’s crossed.

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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