Calm and Centered

Do you know how people have problems that are a result of their own actions but they would rather blame you? Have you ever had that happen? Recently I had the following exchange with someone:

Me: Where’s the paper you were supposed to give me? I was expecting a draft. What did you do all last month?

Person: I didn’t do it.

Me: Why not?

Person: Because you were on vacation.

Me: So? [how does my vacation stop someone from working?]

Person: So you weren’t going to read it.

Me: Not while I was gone that one week, but I would have when I got back.

Person: I just thought that since you were on vacation you wouldn’t read it.

See how this makes no logical sense? Conversations like this happen often enough in my world, and they used to involve me getting so frustrated that I wanted to bang my head against the wall. But really, this problem isn’t about me. The person involved didn’t get the work done for whatever reason. Instead of fully owning up to it, I got some twisted excuse about how my taking a vacation meant this person could not work.

But I did not get frustrated (ok – maybe a little and for a few seconds, but it passed). I remained calm and focused on the problem at hand. This person needed to get a paper done. When was it going to be done? When could I expect to read it? I didn’t let this issue become my problem. I stayed calm and centered.

Calm and centered used to be words that sounded like a good idea. Before starting my practice I was rarely calm and centered. I got caught up in the daily drama of life way to much. If someone else was stressed and angry, I got caught up in that stress and anger. It didn’t matter if the stress and anger was directed at me or not. If a person was expressing it, and I was in the area, I got sucked into it, felt it, lived it, let it drain me emotionally. Rarely does this happen anymore.

When did I get a handle on this?

How did I get a handle on this?

All I know is that each time I enter the hot room I have  to focus on the task at hand. If I think too much about the heat, I will freak out (and I have freaked out). If I think about how much I am sweating, I will freak out. If I do anything other than listen to what the teacher is saying and then do what I am told to the best of my ability then I am not fully engaging in the practice, and I may have a panic attack on my mat.

Of course, it is not easy to listen to someone talk and then follow directions when it’s 105 degrees in the room, and I look like I just took a shower with all my clothes on. It is really, really, really hard. But everytime I go in the room, every single time, I work to listen, to focus, and to do my work. Some days are better than others. Over time it has gotten easier.

Now when I’m faced with a paniced, stressed-out, angry person I am able to sit and listen. Even if that negative energy is directed at me, I am much better at staying calm and centered.  My theory is that because I have gotten much better at listening in the hot room, I have gotten much better at listening outside the hot room. Staying in the hot room and doing all the postures is one of the most difficult things I do. Listening to someone complain that they could not write a paper because I took a vacation is not that hard. Not taking on the blame this person was trying to put on me (no matter how illogical it sounded) was hard to do. But because I can remain calm and centered a whole lot better now I could identify the actual problem (not getting work done) and see if I couldn’t get that person to figure out how to address and solve the problem. If I can focus in the Bikram room, I can focus anywhere.


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