One of the most important things Bikram Yoga does for me is force me to stay in the moment. It’s just me and the mirror for 90 minutes in a hot room talking to no one. As my practice has developed over the years, I find that it is this idea of staying in the moment that keeps coming up repeatedly for me both in and outside the room. Because one of the things I love about Bikram Yoga isn’t just the physical aspect, but all the things it teaches me that I can use outside the room.
This last weekend I really got to test out how good I was at staying in the moment when I found myself stranded in Dallas due to the most recent winter storm. I went to bed Thursday night, knowing the storm was going to be full force on when I woke up, but confident that I would be catching a plane out of DFW at 8:00 pm Friday night. I mean, come on, they had all day Friday to get their act together down at the airport. Of course I would leave Friday night. Of course.
At 6:45 am on Friday morning I learned my flight was cancelled. I immediately called the airline and was put on hold for 90 minutes. I actually never dealt with the airline directly in getting myself home. I ended up hiring the services of the Cranky Concierge (best money ever spent – seriously) and was quickly working with someone to get my butt home (it took five tries to get out of Dallas by the way).
After my first flight was cancelled, I was placed on a Friday 5:00 pm flight. Great. Wonderful….except…the city had shut down. There were no cabs running. No shuttles. Any option you can think of was not happening. Now I had a flight but no way to the airport. Great.
I was in a mild panic, but you know what I did? I breathed. There were many moments on Friday and Saturday (I got home Saturday night) were I reminded myself to come back to my breath and refocus on the task at hand. My challenge at that moment was getting to the airport. So I decided to see if private car services were running
I found one on my second try, and it was here that I was reminded of the importance of staying in the moment. The woman on the phone told me they were running services but had no spaces available. I was dejected to say the least, but I took a breath and focused. Could she recommend another place? Any thoughts on how I might get to the airport? I would so appreciate any help she might have to offer.
She told me that actually, there was a driver who might be able to take me. She had to get special permission though because her boss had told her not to schedule anyone else no matter what. BUT, I was the first person of the day who didn’t respond to her by yelling and cursing at her. I had just been nice. So she went to see what she could do, and I ended up with a car. And then my 5:00 flight got cancelled. But at least I made it out to a hotel near the airport where I stayed until Saturday.
I made damn sure I was nice to every person I came across during that storm. I smiled at everyone. I said thank you to everyone. And that was not easy to do because I was exhausted and miserable. Every time I turned around my flight was getting cancelled. I didn’t always want to be kind. Sometimes I just wanted to be left alone. Sometimes I didn’t want to help people. It would have been easier to go on my merry little way and let someone else do it – leave it as someone else’s problem.
But I thought about all the challenges I faced in a few basic ways:
(a) stay in the moment. I may be having a lot of shitty moments here for several days, but I need to fully engage with them and move through them. no one ever said all these moments would be sunshine, fun, and happiness
(b) having shitty moments does not mean I get to be a shitty person.
(c) breathe, focus, center
I was not a perfect person in getting out of Dallas. I had my moments when I thought I would go nuts. There were times I wanted to cry and scream. But I also saw this as a chance to really stay in each moment presented to me and fully engage in it. In doing so, I learned that not all moments are what they seem. They can start off bad – like not being able to get a ride to the airport – but then they shift into something much better and unexpected – not only was I happy to get a car, but the woman who got it for me said I helped her day be a bit better when I didn’t scream at her.
It’s the same thing in class. A single class can take many unexpected turns for better or worse. Yeah., sometimes we get a really great or really bad class from start to finish, but I find those rare. Normally I go in and out of “good” or “bad” or whatever you want to call it. I experience a range of emotions and spaces within those 90 minutes. If I latch on to any single moment and insist the class must continue on in that manner, then I’m missing all of what the class actually has to bring.
And it’s the same way outside of the hot room. Drop your perceptions of what today, or just this moment, has to be. Let it just be. Accept it for what it is and not what you want it to be. So simple, but perhaps the most challenging thing to do.