The other day I was in a good mood. I left the house early needing time to drive, find parking, and arrive to copy handouts for my 10:00 am yoga class. Leaf change was peaking and the reds, yellows, and oranges were so vibrant outside of my windshield. I felt calm as I came to a stop just a few car lengths from a flagger and the road construction that had shut down the two-way street to a one-lane road. Then, from the corner of my eye, passes a black streak - another car, come from behind to squeak into the gap between me and the flagger.
My instinct was to try to stop the car by rolling down my window and yelling "Hey, what are you doing?!" but I have manual windows and the Mercedes Benz had easily passed by before that could happen. As the driver stopped within a few feet of the flagger, they realized the oncoming traffic wouldn't be able to pass given their proximity. So next, I see their reverse lights flash on.
I have a moment where I think to myself. "Well, now you see why I was stopped where I was!" and just after that, "I'll just stay put so that you can't back up. You'll have to deal with the drivers who can't get past you."
It was petty, and I cringe as I write this. But, at the time, there was this simmering heat that had exploded in the core of my body. An indignant heat that made my anger uncomfortable. And I wanted the person who had made it happen to be uncomfortable too. In that moment, I thought: "YOU have STOLEN my peace."
Eventually, I did back up. The oncoming traffic passed by, the flagger switched his stop sign to a "slow" sign and the driver and I passed. I was only behind that car for a half-minute more before they turned their way and I went mine. But that driver was in my mind for the rest of the morning. At the end of my yoga class, I thought to myself - you know, it wasn't anything personal. It wasn't "YOU stole my peace." Maybe more like "Your ACTIONS stole my peace."
But event that thought didn't take away the charge. Another hour later, after teaching my second yoga class, I recalled the situation again. My temperature rose instantly at the memory. I thought to myself: "No, the driver did not steal your peace. Their actions may have momentarily stolen your peace, but your reaction to their actions are what is continuing to steal your peace. It's you sister. YOU." And with that, I let out a DEEP sigh -- heat rushed out of my mouth.
I can't speak for all yoga teachers, but I am not perfect at equanimity. It's easy for me to hold on to the sweet moments and the frustrations long after they are over. I ruminate and revise the response I SHOULD have had in the moment countless times throughout the hours that follow it. And that's exactly why I practice meditation and yoga. Sweet lord I do not know WHERE I would be without these practices given that this is where I am with them :)
As 2018 rolls to a close and we get the reminder that nothing lasts forever and everything will pass, I hope you'll enjoy this meditation for cultivating equanimity.
P.S. I'll be leading a 2-hour practice with gentle yoga, deep relaxation, and meditation on New Year's Eve (Monday, December 31st) from 2-4pm. The practice will provide space to mark the end of the year and to set an intention for 2019. If you are in DC then, I'd love to see you.
Hannah has been a student of yoga and meditation since 2003 and a practitioner of Ayurveda since 2013. She spent a decade teaching yoga classes and yoga teacher trainings throughout the metro-DC area. In August of 2019, she left full-time teaching to pursue a two-year Masters degree in Speech Language Pathology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She intends to combine yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda into speech therapy sessions with those struggling to share their voices. While she does not currently teach regular classes, you can study with her online through Insight Timer.