With the onset of spring comes talk of spring cleaning. Of course it’s nice to have a sparkling clean house or do a satisfying purge of items you no longer need, what about the things in your mind that you no longer need? How about a purge for those?
I realized recently that I was in desperate need of just that. It dawned on me during a hot yoga class. Rushing from the office to make it to the studio in time to get changed and have at least a few minutes to switch my head into yoga mode, I hastily unrolled my mat in the first open spot I noticed.
It wasn’t until about 20 minutes into class, with sweat furiously propelling itself out of my pores that I realized I was directly underneath a vent. I took a glance at the nearby thermostat and it mocked me with a reading of 90 degrees, conspiring with its vent counterpart to unleash an ungodly amount of hot air onto my soaked, struggling body and dizzy head. And, I forgot to bring a towel.
I broke out of chair post to guzzle some water and futilely dab away sweat with one of my socks (yes, one of the socks that had been on my foot not long before. I didn’t have a towel, don’t judge me!). When I launched back into chair pose with a prayer twist to the right, my gaze fell onto my neighbor.
Lululemon yoga mat + Lululemon water bottle + Lululemon pants + Lululemon top. This woman’s gear for one class cost more than my monthly mortgage payment. What a waste of money and what a snoot this broad is! And of course every pose she does is flawless and it doesn’t even look like she’s sweating. Ms. Perfect!
That’s when I caught myself. The judging, the unnecessary irritation – where was it coming from? I didn’t even know this woman. She was trying to get something out of a yoga class just like I was. Not to mention, I owned a few Lululemon things myself. Why was unleashing my internal fury on her?
Faltering out of airplane pose with sweat stinging my eyes, I felt a pang of self-consciousness as my thoughts centered on the fact that I was the sweatiest person in class and the only one who wasn’t still airplane-ing.
And, that was my light bulb moment.
About a year and half ago, I went on a personal journey to hone the craft of acceptance, non-judgment, forgiveness and general Zen. I fancied it a life-altering change and was quite proud of myself. But, over the past several months, it’s begun to slip away. And, I’m pretty sure I had either been in denial or ignoring that fact. Until this moment.
The word “practice” is appended to the end of other words like meditation and yoga for a reason. You have to practice these things consistently in order for them to have an impact. In my case, I got lazy with my meditation routine, as well as the other practices there were keeping grounded, lighter (in spirit, that is) and happier. You can’t just “set it and forget it” – it takes constant work to keep yourself from switching to autopilot and slipping back into old habits.
Now when I find myself getting unreasonably irritated, sad for no apparent reason, or judgy of others, I stop and do a self-check in. More often than not, I can trace the negative thoughts and feelings back to my own insecurities and self-consciousness. That’s when I know it’s time for some deep breaths and a reset.
So, does writing this a year after patting myself on the back for “stumbling towards Zen” make me a sham because I appeared to have lost my Zen? I don’t think so. I think I’ll find it again after a little spring cleaning of the noggin and some committed practice.
A few weeks after the hot yoga light bulb moment, my self-consciousness trigger was truly tested when, upon checking into another yoga class, I was asked, “Which class are you here for – Vinyasa basics or mom-to-be slow flow?”
I don’t think my eyes could have darted any faster to my non-pregnant belly to check for signs of errant bloating or waistband crumpling. But, rather than letting myself be consumed with self-deprecating thoughts about a baby bump that wasn’t even there, I just smiled through my blushing face and made the assumption that the kind soul behind the desk had to ask everyone that question.
Brain clutter be damned, I’ll find that Zen again!