Meet Jason. I am embarrassed to admit I hate him. His name is not really Jason. That would not be kind. Hating him is bad enough.
Jason somehow finds me in yoga class and throws his mat down too close to mine. Not just once, but for four weekends in a row.
The first week, I did not give it a lot of thought. He was painfully new to the practice and — in my annoyed opinion — did not belong in the front of a crowded room. In many yoga practices, the newbies stand toward the back so they can watch and learn. He had enthusiasm, though. I could feel him trying for 90 minutes without remit.
Worse, he breathes like Darth Vader. He fidgets, makes faces and moves around all over the mat, and off the mat, towel flying. Oh, and he forgot to bring water. I can easily forgive all that for one day. Twice, even, with all the requisite belching and farting as the body adjusts to the practice. But four weeks in a row? I know my vow is patience but something inside me is not so pretty.
I practice in a large room. Yet, the following weekend he stood beside me again.
I began to hate him within five minutes.
I spent the whole class surrendering, trying to give compassion to my hateful self, surrendering to accept Jason, wrestling with a somewhat pathetic attempt to understand what part of Jason was Me.
I would have a moment of enlightenment followed by yet another flood of wanting to speak up, settle him down, control him, push him away. As I was heading into a forward-bending asana, butt in the air, I can feel his breath on my legs. I felt mugged. Yes, I hated him even more. Where, oh where, was my Jizo? I was ungrounded, afloat in toxic judgement.
Last week was the third week and again he chose a spot beside me … and he is not doing this to flirt. I am old enough to be his mother. This time, I hoped our encounter would start to be absurdly funny. No, I hated him just as much. He is every man who has ever intruded on me or any other woman — every employer, every date, every stranger who felt he had the right to smudge me with his come-on.
This week, I determined I would move if he was there. But just as class was about to start, he arrived and found barely enough space to place his mat beside mine. I looked around for a safe place. Nowhere to go.
So, now I have decided I have to write about it. Why? Because I am on this path of understanding. Because I feel things that, I am told, many others feel.
They have a name for this in meditation retreats. I have mentioned it before and here is comes again: Vipassana vendetta. Murderous rage. It is an opportunity to look more deeply inside myself, with compassion.
After class was over, I sobbed for five minutes in the car. And then I felt more whole. Hello, shadow.