Headspace Day 27: Using the movement of Sitting to Standing as a way to Find Balance

by Ellen O'Hearn April 09, 2015

I’m currently on Day 27 of the Headspace journey with Andy. I’ve been at it probably twice that long, but I’m not mindful enough yet to remember to fit it in every day, and miss days here and there. However, on the days that I do meditate with the Headspace App, I feel more relaxed, less irritable, and actually strangely, less forgetful.

So for Day 27, which I did yesterday, and Day 28, which I just completed this morning, Andy has suggested that I have an awareness of the movement of sitting to standing and standing to sitting, as a prompt in my day to be more mindful. He says to try being present for that movement. This is so interesting to me, an intersection of my personal life and my working life. I feel so blessed to work at a company that is focused on greater well-being at the office and in the work life. Standing at work has energized me, and solved problems I wasn’t aware I had. For years, I thought I might have intestinal issues, as I always had very strong back pain, just on my left side, going from my head and neck, all the way down to my lower back. It was a soreness, which I tried to work on by laying on the floor and doing yoga where I could stretch out those muscles on that side.

I have to back up a tiny bit, and confess that at age 13, I was diagnosed with scoliosis, lordosis and kyphosis. The doctor my unengaged mom took me to, only twice, gave me three options. Wear a brace every day to school, join volleyball, or join swim team. Allegedly those two sports build nice big back muscles that would help my issues. I was not about to wear a brace, so I chose swim team. I hated it the first year. I was so scrawny and embarrassed. I was 5’ 11” already and gangly and awkward. However, by my second year on swim team, in an outdoor pool in Bryan, Texas, I started to improve, my hair turned blonde, and I started having fun and enjoying the team, winning some races here and there. The community feeling of the team enveloped me as well, the friends, the extremely awesome swim meets which involved listening to U2 tapes (late 80s), long bus rides, and the smell of chlorine. I don’t remember having back pain during these years, and never addressed it again with a doctor.

Let’s come back to the present decade. Over a year ago, in January of 2014, I started standing at work. I was living the dream of our small company, and using the ergonomic sit-stand desk products Stand Steady designs. About 3 months in, I realized, this weird colon discomfort, left side of my body pain, intense soreness, was completely gone. I originally didn’t even connect it to standing at work. I was trying to analyze any changes in my diet, as I had long thought this intense lower back pain was a gastrointestinal issue.

Sometime in November, I got Pneumonia for the first time in my life. I was pretty tired, and decided for the first time all year, to sit down at work all day, every day. I was sitting for 2 weeks. Like a knife, the left side pain came back to me. I’m so slow to connect things like this. I wondered if the steroids and antibiotics I was on for Pneumonia were causing intestinal duress. A few weeks later, I was feeling much better and reinstalled my Executive Stand Steady. Within 4 days, my back pain was gone. It’s so counter-intuitive. Logically, standing all day sounds like a path to back pain. Don’t we need to rest on our bums? Isn’t this the white collar dream? Actually, when I was having back pain, I was inclined to want to “rest” and sit more often. The thing is, standing eliminates my back pain. I just have to be mindful enough to remember that. How much has standing at work helped my kyphosis, lordosis and scoliosis? I haven’t thought about it. I don’t see a doctor for those issues. The solution for me as a 40 year old with a desk job, and no time for swim team, really has been as simple as a standing desk. And thanks to Headspace, I’m going to try to be aware of when I’m sitting and standing.




Ellen O'Hearn
Ellen O'Hearn

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