Yesterday at hot yoga I placed my yoga mat in one of my usual spots, next to someone I’d never seen in class before. I usually don’t attend the 5 pm Sunday class, so she may have had the same thought…I’ve never seen her before. Or she may have had a completely different thought, one not even related to me.
Three walls of the large room we practice in are covered with mirrors. We stand in front of a floor to ceiling mirror and are supposed to look straight ahead at our third eye focusing on ourselves for 90 minutes. I’m human, my eyes wander a bit now and then although my focus has greatly improved and I am able to keep primarily attentive to myself in the mirror. When I glanced over occasionally at the gal next to me yesterday, I couldn’t help but notice her scowl. It made me double-take more than once that class. Was she mad at me? Wait, I don’t know her, never met her, haven’t even exchanged looks. Was she so mad at herself? Did she not like the person glancing back? When I would turn back my gaze and attention back to myself it forced me to smile at my image in the mirror, to wear a soft loving gaze. I had come in on a Sunday evening, I owed myself a loving look not a demeaning glare.
She got me thinking. How often do we see others glaring, scowling, frowning and think…She’s giving me the evil eye, she doesn’t like me, he thinks I’m strange? Just because that person is in front of us that moment doesn’t mean they’re really in front of us in that moment. Physically they are standing there, but they may not be thinking of us.
Not too long ago I attended a party where a very thin woman I barely knew sat next to me with her plate of hors d’ouvres and said, Oh, I shouldn’t eat this I’m so fat. I’d love to try that dessert on your plate but I’ve gained ten pounds and look huge.
I could’ve blown her over with my exhale. I immediately took her words personally and thought, only momentarily, about putting my plate of food down. Was she talking about me? Does she think I need to lose ten pounds?
NO, SILLY. I saw her as thin, beautiful, perfect really, she saw herself another way and not deserving of dessert. So many of our encounters are taken personally when in reality the person is merely reflecting on THEMSELVES. NOT US. What a concept.
Man, I wish I was a guy sometimes. They don’t take anything personally and if their buddy remarked about not eating dessert because his jeans felt snug, the other guy wouldn’t think he was talking about him. They’d fart, belch, cuss and move on.
After yesterday’s class, 90 minutes of moving in a 105 degree room I was hoping to catch eyes with the gal next to me, see what her smile looked like.
Not a chance. She was doing sit ups. In my almost 2 years of practicing Bikram yoga, I’ve never seen someone end their practice with crunches. We’ve just sweated our asses off, the thought of continuing doesn’t cross my mind. Is that why she was glaring at herself in the mirror? She didn’t like what she saw? Or does she like what she saw and wants to keep it up? Does it matter? It isn’t about me.
I rolled up my mat and towel and went home proud of myself for showing up, proud for not judging my appearance and really proud I didn’t start doing sit-ups next to her, because the thought crossed my mind, briefly.