The Zen of Dead Bugs


Dead bugs. Can you picture that? Bugs on their backs with their six legs flailing? Maybe the bugs are already dead and their legs are stuck in a bent position. No longer in the air. More curled up against their bodies.

I don’t really like thinking about bugs, dead or alive. But a couple of times a month we do dead bugs in my physical therapy class. This evening was a dead bug night. And my rotation to dead bugs was after 56 minutes of other cardio-strength training-balance work. I was ready to be the dead bug. A four minute dead bug.
Which meant I had to do something to get through my four minute dying bug workout.

An internet search for a dead bug picture revealed that there are serious ab workouts called dead bugs. Here I thought is was a term for a specific exercise the physical therapists made up. They seem to have all kinds of code terms for positions and exercise components. I can tell you, our dead bugs don’t look like the dead bugs from the Arthritis Foundation or even some of the body-building programs.

And then, my dead bug doesn’t look like anything everyone else in the class does. Everyone else in the class is on a thirteen-inch diameter disk with a centered ball underneath. They are on their backs, balancing on the disk, while alternating top taps alternating with straight arms in the air. For four minutes. Instead of a disk, I use an exercise ball, in a semi-crunch position. I can’t really toe tap with the fused ankle and the replaced shoulder only gets some time in the straightened position. I imagine I look like a maimed, dying bug.

Dead bugs is an excellent zen opportunity. Fortunately, I was positioned under the skylight, giving me my choice of focal points. The moon-lit clouds. The beams that ran from side to side half-way up the skylight. The magnificent cob webs. The paint. Brigette, the therapist, gave us minute alerts, which gave me one minute of zen for each focal point. Dead bugs was over before I was completely dead!

As I was driving home, a familiar passage about meditating came to mind:

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ~ Philippians 4:8

The spiritual application came a little late for dead bugs. Maybe next time. Sometimes you have to make do with what you have at the time. Tonight is was the paint in the skylight.

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