She stood over me spraying her yoga mat from shoulder height with tea tree oil. Not only was she inadvertently spraying it all over my mat; but also all over my shoulders and hair. While I enjoy using tea tree oil for cleaning and love the smell for it’s antiseptic qualities; I definitely do not enjoy that smell during my hour of yoga. I could feel my irritation rising but held my tongue. Just as I shook it off in my mind, she walked by me to put the tea tree away and stepped squarely on my hand.
Not a word was said, she didn’t even notice her mistake!
I was fuming. How could someone be so inconsiderate? This is yoga! People are supposed to be at least somewhat conscious here! Ouch my hand!
She must have sensed my irritation because as class started, she moved her mat from beside me, to behind me. Now in my downward dog position I could see her directly in the view between my legs…I thought “oh great, now I have to look at her during the entire class.”
As I held my posture on the mat looking at my new enemy between my knees, I saw that she was either deformed from birth, or had endured some sort of accident that took half her rib cage away. Her spine was twisted to the right and when she stood upright, I saw in the mirror that her entire body was “off”.
Suddenly I was flooded with compassion. I started to go into shame, but realized that most anyone would be irritated by being sprayed down like a horse with tea tree oil before class. Add in the hand stepping and I had a right to be irritated. Yet something happened in my head and heart when I saw her physical abnormality. None of her wrong doing mattered anymore. In the scheme of things, who cares if i got sprayed and stepped on? It obviously was an accident. I’m sure she didn’t mean it or even notice.
Then I noticed the compassion flooding through me. This woman could have popped me on top of my head with her water bottle before class and in this moment I would have felt complete compassion.photos courtesy Jim Campbell
So I wonder; why did I only show compassion and understanding once I saw her physical ailments? This woman wears her wounds on the outside. Don’t all of us carry wounds on the inside? It’s impossible to make it past the age of 3 without enduring some sort of inside wound. Disappointment, heartbreak, and loss are all found in each of us.
I looked around the yoga room and thought about this…..Every single person in this room is wounded. Why does it take a very noticeable outside wound on someone for me to be selfless and compassionate enough to completely drop my irritation and move into total understanding, total forgiveness?
I vowed during class to try and remember this during the next few days. I’m going to remember that we’re all wounded and if we knew the depths of one another’s wounds, I’m sure we would treat each other with total understanding and total forgiveness.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I know for sure that the people close to me have their internal wounds. I know the people I don’t know have internal wounds and I know I myself have internal wounds. Maybe if for one day we all wore them on the outside, people would show compassion for one another.
Until then, I’m going to remember that feeling of twisted compassion in yoga class.