Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Today started off as the adult version of the terrible, horrible, no good very bad day in every possible way. I roll out of bed after not enough sleep, and into the car to spend forty-five minutes driving around my neighborhood looking for alternate side parking-- getting stuck behind garbage trucks and eight wheelers dropping off their deliveries, after taking every wrong turn possible to no avail. I make a deal with the universe in my head (although, I have no idea what might have been in this for the universe) if I don't find a spot in five minutes I'll drive to work today (ugh). Ok, how about seven minutes? The universe is not making deals with me today, as I turn onto a street that has half an hour left, ok, the universe is making compromises. Half an hour to shower, change, grab something (which ends of being coffee) and get ready for the day. I return thirty-two minutes later, after running down the street spilling coffee everywhere, to a sanitation vehicle man writing a ticket. I guess I won't have to drive, as I am paying for the spot which yields the cranky-crowded-rude- pushy-occasional-absolutely-crazy-person-commute-we-are-delayed-because-of-train-traffic-now-i-am-late section of the day. So I begin wondering why do I live here? A little week ago I was stretching on the beach in North Carolina, contemplating how forgiving and supportive the sand was of my splits pose and the tight outer leg of my pigeon pose, meditating on the ocean horizion and basking in the wonder of the sun. The month before that I was hiking, cooking with friends and living in the woods... This transition back to my reality is not going very well, I am feeling. And I can't stop asking why AM I living in New York City? I ponder the question throughout the day as my body gets more tense and unpleasant email conversations arise at work; and though the sun is indeed shining on the New York City, I am inside in a terribly chilly office, as I get more cranky, crazy-feeling, caffeine-driven and intense feeling. A couple meetings and crunchy back later I am on my way home. I decide that I could be committed to thinking about and wallowing in the horrible, terrible, no-good, very bad day-- or not... and a subtle, yet perceptible shift begins to occur, I notice some things that make me smile: the woman with a huge bird ring on her finger; the guy reading The Alchemist on the train; all the different shades of skin color on the subway; the funny-crazy person; the clouds above the apartment building across the street; the farmers market peach i shared with my friend; teaching yoga; my friends' new dog; a piece of pizza after eleven pm; that the studio doesn't move (like sand does) under my handstand practice. None of these things from the beginning of the day until the end mean anything, but by the meaning, the perspective I choose to give. It is powerful, and so very difficult. I am committing to keeping up with this blog, at least once a week, because time moves so quickly here, there is hardly a chance to absorb the experiences-- let alone reflect, and I don't want it to slip through my hands un-remembered. Good or otherwise.

The mean reds

This is the hardest time of year for me, even in "sunny Southern California" the days are shorter and a little colder. I find myself a little more anxious, worried, annoyed with day to day life. For some reason around now, everything mundane thing feels a little more difficult. I spend a week or two drowning in the frustration at myself about feeling frustrated-- and then inevitably one day I remember this is a annual "thing". I fantasize I could write myself a letter to send promptly that will arrive 365 days from now, to remind myself mid-January next year that I always feel somewhere between the blues and mean reds. And that the cure is simple: more meditation, more yoga, more sleep, less computer time and that I can be nicer to myself.

Maitri in Sanskrit or Metta in Pali translates as many things: loving-kindness, compassion, friendliness, benevolence, good will, friendship, the list goes on. Many of the translations make me think of doing things for others, and when I am in my current state of being I don't like to think about doing nice things for others, or even thinking nice things for others (well, unless someone does something nice for me, then it is easy). My meditation teachers have revealed that Metta does not dictate that we first or only give this to others, but first we meditate/contemplate/ruminate on Metta towards your own self, your own being, your very life in this moment, right here right now. And from there the spiral of positivity can lead to outward as it will. Patanjali (the guy who wrote down the Yoga Sutras) even suggests that in place of asana, pranayama or meditation the practice of Maitri can be a powerful one on the road to a peaceful mind.

If visualization or meditation on the direct idea of Metta/Maitri doesn't work for me in the beginning I like to recite this chant. It helps kick-start things if you will: lokah samasta sukinoh bhavantu-- "May all beings have happiness and causes of happiness" (Wah! has a beautiful recording, if you need a little outside help kick-starting the process). And when I am really feeling cranky, irritable and wronged, I simplify it even more into this mantra-- I want for you what I want for myself. Then I go back to my meditation seat, focus on my breath for a while and focus on sending some loving-kindness to myself.

So my question of the month is: how can you be a little nicer to yourself right here, right now? (If multiple answers pop up in your imagination, then you should give yourself permission to try them all with delight).