Why am I shouting the title at you?
Sorry, I’m a little deaf these days, there’s constant hammering away in the apartment above my head since we last chatted. They’re
doing it to drive me crazy renovating.
Hence why, I still haven’t uploaded that video I have been promising! I need to construct a sound proof room first which reminds me of the old music room at my school. I would go there every lunchtime for piano lessons. The entire room was wall-papered with egg cartons and painted blue to accord with the school colour. The effect was, uh, very crafty and three-dimensional. But aside from being quite visually effective the egg cartons really didn’t work very well.
Which brings me back to where I am seated right now. It sounds like the people upstairs are diligently tinkering away with teeny tiny hammers and chisels at the ceiling above my head. Which makes me imagine they are either chiseling a statue or they are trying to tunnel their way into my apartment.
Am I annoyed? Sort of, I guess I’m half laughing at the imagery and half wishing the noise would stop. I am distracted by the incessant
tunnelling hammering. That’s what is getting me, that I am allowing myself to be distracted and affected by this external activity. It is beyond my environment so why is it having such a huge impact on me?
It is just like in yoga classes, if you have had the fortune to experience, when a person, perhaps on a mat next to you is a REALLY LOUD BREATHER. Really, really, really loud. There is silence all around, except a sort of hum of coordinated movements and breathing… then this fantastically pervasive rasping sound emanating from the person next to you. Has that ever bothered you?
Or how about if the lady next to you in her struggle to do any postures is blustering and swearing away. “Oh geez. Oh !@#$%^&*#@#@***” on and on and on she goes for the entire ninety minutes. She hangs in there for the full class. She has paid her entry fee and by *&$#@ is she gonna get every last #$@&* minute out of that @#$%^&* session.
What about the self-appointed class joker (hey, why did you look at me for?) on the other side of the room, who takes it upon himself, everytime the teacher
claims says “One more breath here” to do a countdown “Five, four, three, two aaaaaaaaaand ONEEEEEEEEEE!!!”
EVERY. TIME. No one laughs after the first time. But he persists.
Or what about the person who is just too sweaty? Or the showoff? Or the two ladies who won’t stop talking in the back? Or the person who doesn’t smell nice? Or the person who is wearing hardly anything and you can see right up their bandha?
The list could go on and on ad nauseum.
Well? Do you recognise these people? Do you think to yourself, “What classes do you attend, and why haven’t these people been thrown out?!”
Well, these people don’t just go to yoga classes. They also show up in your life. They’re in the supermarket, at your workplace, at uni, they’re on the bus with you, the train. Yep, sometimes they’re in the guise of your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, best friend, mum, dad, or child or brother, whatever.
And they’re doing something and it just bothers the bejeezers out of you.
What is a ‘bejeezer’? You don’t even know. You’re just so annoyed right now you’re creating new words. Oxford Dictionary look out, coming soon your way, get ready to take notes.
Oh, and of course you’re not being nitpicky. It’s them. Right? It’s always them.
Do they have to do that? And in that way?*
YES THEY HAVE TO. And the more that it bothers you, the more they have to do that.
If you have ever experienced this then my suggestion is below. It seems to snap me out of my egg-cartoned mindset quick-smart. What works for me, might work for you. If you have never experienced this, well done, I guess you can carry on reading for entertainment?
Here’s the solution: Change your mind. Leave the world alone. Your world will evolve with time to fit the shape of your mind. You can make it as easy or as hard as you like, as I like to tell my students about our yoga practice. The choice is yours. You can struggle, or you can float. You do get to choose. You always have a choice.
Take a good look at these supposed ‘challengers’ and be glad they exist. They’re your true teachers. You will learn more from them than a workshop with a ‘celebrity’ yoga instructor. These are the teachers that teach you how to live. And they do it so effortlessly.
all your fellow
humans and name
– Erich Schiffman
I have met all sorts of teachers in yoga classes and I have to say over the years I still catch myself feeling exasperated and yes, distracted! It happens less and less but it still happens sometimes! Sometimes it’s the small, seemingly insignificant things that trip me up the hardest. I forget and think, “I am beyond that point. I love life. I love everyone. I’m fine.”
And then bang! I totally walk on my floaty cloud feelings into that trap my mind has set for me. I’m no longer practising yoga when that happens. I’m in somethingsomething-asana but it’s just a shape my body happens to be in. Because at that point, I have chosen to be more important than anyone else, more deserving to be there than anyone else and have decided that my comfort is more important than the comfort of anyone else, there in that class room. How egotistical does that sound when said out loud?
Instead of saying, “Oh, they’re so ANNOYING” but instead to phrase that as “I’m more important than they are.”
Yeesh! No, we have left yoga at that point. We’re just sweating and bending and stretching.
No yoga there. Just ego.
Oh, beware the ego trap! It is there all day everyday. There will never be a day when you reach nirvana and the trap is no longer set for you. You need to be on alert at all times. Be present in the moment. Live mindfully and completely in each moment. Question yourself.
And so, this is what I mean by
YOGA ALL DAY.
You do have to shout that a little at yourself, to get it through, past that ego trap. It has egg cartons painted in a hideous colour to distract you to the point of rage from realising that you have fallen deep inside. You can hear the sounds of life around you, but all you can see are those cartons. You are blind to the lesson in front of you.
There is far more to yoga than just yoga as I say. Our ability to do the splits, to touch our toes with our legs straight, or to stick one leg behind our head or stand on our head will not insulate us from the lessons of life. The ability to do any of those things are just acrobatic.
The goal of yoga is to cultivate an attitude of equanimity and one of compassion.
We’re all in this together, some of us swearing away, some of us panting loudly, some of us excitedly talking, some of us silently and we’re all chiseling away at this unshaped rock to make sense of our life purpose and find our way. When we look to our left and right and see we’re all trying in our different ways to do the same thing, live our lives any which way we can, the scales fall from our eyes, and the sounds and activities of life become what they always have been. Just a soundtrack of life.
Don’t get distracted by the soundtrack to your life.
Breathe. Practice your yoga all day. Know your fellow humans by name. Thank your teachers.
And between you and me, I don’t know what it is, maybe the renovations have finished upstairs, but I can’t hear any noise anymore. It is perfectly silent. All I can hear is the sound of my breathing and the sound of my fingers tapping on the keyboard.
Thank you thank you thank you. x
*Sometimes we are those very same people. We may not think it, but someone somewhere may be looking at us with disdain and think, “Oh go somewhere else, will ya?” How hurt would we feel if someone said to us that what we were doing was supremely irritating to them? Did we even aim our actions at them? Nope! We were just doing our own thing, right? Funny, that. Hmm.