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Integration

May 20, 2010

I should start this post off with a brief anecdote about yoga in my life:

My schedule has been really tight recently, and has sort of weighed heavily on my yoga practice. Tonight I got VERY  excited about going to class. Thing of it is that I  now work pretty much uptown and class is in Park Slope at 6 pm. Not too much wiggle room. On this particular day, I had to make a bank deposit before class so to make sure I made it I sprinted two avenue blocks, tackling weary evening commuters as I went. I made my deposit, then sprinted (equally aggressively) to the subway and then got all pissed off because the trains took too long and then someone held the door open at every stop (assholes). There was a lot of cursing under my breath, sighing loudly and rolling my eyes. The subway finally delivers me to my destination and it was 5:53. I’d made it too far by that point to lay down and die, so I took to running again. I  got to the corner and decided  to do the two step street crossing at a running speed. The guy in the incoming traffic lane was not sure what to make of this and had probably figured that I’m suicidal. Well (thankfully) he didn’t want my blood on his hand so he laid hands on his horn, stopped abruptly and started screaming obscenities into the street. I, determined to get to class, and not sure what else to do flicked him the bird and screamed ” What the? Fuck YOU!” It was 5:56 and the whole little event went down right in front of the yoga studio which is large comprised of windows. I thought it best to take a one minute time out for reflection before entering, at 5:57.

You see correctly, I screamed “Eff you” to someone only moments before I gently shuffled my shoes off and set up shop in a yoga studio. Very nice.

This attitude, or rather “on and off” switch of attitudes is extremely common for me, and I’m willing to bet that it’s not so uncommon in other aspiring yogis too. When I’m in yoga, I really believe that I’m a better person…but the many hours I spend outside of a  yoga studio, all bets are off.

Yesterday, I had a pretty crummy day and was very much in need of a spiritual power cleanse. I made it (without incident) on time and settled in for a very good class. By the end, I was feeling aiight and we went into our brief closing meditation. Now, yoga can be pretty preachy, but it is totally acceptable because it is good stuff. One major teaching seems to be a wide reaching definition of compassion.

Sometimes, these definitions of compassion seem bizarre to me. It’s almost like one of those dresses that is an amorphous piece of cloth but can be tied into 900 different flattering fashions. The particular manifestation in class yesterday was sort of “love thine enemy.” But it is also possible that I selectively  internalized that  and that is all I’m able to recall today.

Love the enemy in any dogma has always been an interesting concept to me. What if the enemy is Hitler? What compassion am I to feel for him? It’s not like lima beans “are the enemy.” Or republicans are “the enemy.” Lima beans and republicans both have redeeming qualities I’m sure. Hell, I even like lima beans. So, I say, what if the enemy cannot be redeemed? A bit of a philosophical dilemma for sure.

In any case, I’ve been having a bit of a tough time recently. I feel like the enemy is coming at me from all sides and that I lie helpless in wait of whatever torture they seek to inflict upon me. So, this little meditation topic sort of hit home for me. I even felt emotions (other than anger, which I have on lock at this point). I was moved to discuss this with Lily, one of the founders of Dharma Yoga Brooklyn.

Basically, I talk a big line about being a yogi…and sometimes, well, I hardly feel like one when I’m not on a mat. I was thinking, maybe it is time to really “live yoga.” It’s time to really integrate.

Back to loving the enemigo…I ask Lily “why is it SO hard to feel compassion for someone when all you really want to do is sock them in the mouth?” Ok, well, in so many words I said that. And, as to not bore you with the whole conversation she said something that really struck me: You can’t blame the button pusher, blame the button.

Perhaps it seems like a natural conclusion to you, but not so much for me. I thought this was brilliant. That person who just needles you to the breaking point…you ALLOW this. There is a vulnerability in you, a pain, a weakness, a social hang up and you, unknowingly, let that person at it. They couldn’t push the button if it weren’t there to be pushed. I’m sure you’re asking, what is this to do with yoga? Well, according to Lily, yoga will help us to peel layer upon layer away to reveal what that effing button is doing there to begin with.

Is someone bothering you on the job? Is there just that one person that anything that pops out of their stupid mouths makes you want to help them shut it – permanently? Chances are, you’re probably pissed about something else. Maybe you’ve needed a raise or have waited for a promotion and been passed over time and time again. Maybe you’re a dreamer, and you’ve so often dreamt of a new life but have been unable to act on it. These are your buttons. You are building them every day. You can use yoga to find the buttons and disable them. BRILLIANT! Ok, easier said than done I’m sure…and then there is that whole “fear factor” about facing one’s skeletons in the closet. Eek.

All I can say is I’m sick of  people, and life in general,  getting all touchy feeling with  my buttons. I’m doing this yoga thing, so I might as well really do it. Some people get laser hair removal, I’m getting yoga button removal.

[Image via: Intellectual Ventures Lab]

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