Around the Mind and Body in 60 Days: Week seven, where I have an Oprah momentthat might change my life
After six consecutive days of late afternoon classes, I mentally challenge myself to get to an earlier class. Since it’s a Sunday, noon seems early enough. When I arrive, the room is getting pretty crowded, and I find myself situated between a tattooed gent that looks like he’s stepped out of an episode of American Chopper and a young coed in a perfectly coordinated yoga outfit.
This is one of the things I love about the practice and the downtown studio in particular. It brings together all kinds of people: professional athletes recovering from an injury, addicts in recovery, school moms, students and everyone else in between. Everyone’s reason for entering the hot room is different, but the experience is the same — a 90 minute “open-eyed meditation” as it’s called that forces you, literally, to focus and study yourself in every sense of the words.
The practice challenges you from the inside out. The mirrors only reflect the outside of the body, but that is not the only stretching and changing happening. The practice forces you to confront or deal with things that you may not like about yourself, but the promise of the practice is always the same: If you come, you will change for the better.
Class is hot and just the right amount of humid. Class is wonderfully, amazingly, push-it-to-the-limit great. Something the instructor says during the floor series (the part of class that stresses looking upward instead of straight ahead) sticks with me: “If you’re only looking straight ahead, you’ll never go further in the posture. You have to look upwards, to where you can’t yet see, in order make progress.”
I mentally substituted “the posture” with “life” and am hit with a ton of bricks. Of course I’m familiar with the power of positive visualization, but this little golden nugget of truth was particularly insightful to me and reminds me of a quote by Martin Luther King, Jr: "Faith is taking the first step, even when you can’t see the whole staircase."
These affirmations speak to the ever-evolving dreamer in me. Suddenly the song “The impossible dream” starts playing in my head. I return home physically and mentally energized. I unload the dishwasher. I do two loads of laundry. I make a good dinner. I even do some work. I feel like a pint-sized Wonder Woman.
Two steps forward, one step back. Everything about today is a huge annoyance. The check engine light in my car has been on for two days. I accidentally flush a new pair of contacts down the drain after having torn another new pair the day before. I need to go to the grocery store but I'm in no mood to go. I’m annoyed I didn’t go to a morning class and have to go to an afternoon class.
Once I get to class, I feel the stiffest and most inflexible I have in two months. I’m annoyed I still can’t do Toe Stand. I’m annoyed at the instructor’s infallible patience and calming demeanor. I almost well up with tears while in Savasana after Camel pose when the instructor tells us to “Let it go. Just let it all go.”
Body:(to Mind) He’s talking to you.
Mind: (sniffling) Shut up. I know.
Body: We’re going to get through this. You know that. I got this covered.
Mind: (still sniffling, lip quiver) Thanks. You’re a pal. I’ll have a better day tomorrow, I promise.
Instructor:(to class) If it hurts, good for you.
Mind and Body:(to instructor) Shut up.
The funk continues. Finding out a certain ex got married is hard enough. Finding out he got married on Valentine’s Day has me thinking about drinking Vodka out of a Big Gulp.
I throw myself into the hot room and am blissfully happy to be there. Even in my emotionally compromised state, class is therapeutic and fun. As everyone is struggling and falling out of Standing Bow, the instructor hits us with, “Get back in it. You learn balance by loosing balance.” I want to tell her she has no clue how metaphorically accurate she is.
Physically, class is a good one. I stretch a little further, I pull a little harder. I cleanse from the inside out. Emotional detox continues with a fabulous home-cooked dinner with my brother, sister-in-law and superbly entertaining nephew. Later, I read my Free Will Astrology horoscope which says, “You cannot afford to keep imitating who you used to be and what you used to do. As much as possible, reinvent yourself from scratch — and have maximum fun doing it.”
Way ahead of you, buddy, I think. The challenge, for me, has broken me down and is starting to build me back up again. As Bikram himself says, “The darkest spot in the world is underneath the lamp.”
I’m watching the end of Ghostbusters. It’s 1:15 a.m. and getting to the good part where Mr. Stay Puff is about to be torched when I bolt upright on the couch. I have a full-blown Oprah moment involving a business idea that comes to me so clearly developed that I’m initially skeptical. But as it marinates in my brain, I realize it is a pretty fabulous and feasible idea. I turn to my dog. “Holy crap,” I say, “I think Bikram just changed my life.”