There is a woman I would like to thank, although I will probably never meet her. To be honest, I have never even seen her. I wouldn’t know who she was if she knocked on my door. My mother came home from spending a day with her sister. They had gone to a local place that has saunas and hot pools and cold pools and people misting scented water into your face. It’s the kind of place one might go to attempt to wring the stress right out of them.
They had been sitting in one of the saunas catching up, as people do. There was a woman sitting cross-legged on the other side of the room, eyes closed, hands resting on her legs looking peaceful and serene. After a couple minutes, the quietly-sitting woman opened her eyes, glared at them and hissed, “Can you please keep it down?!”. Then she turned away, closed her eyes, and sat quietly again. I’m going to guess her practice wasn’t so peaceful after that. I laugh at this image, not because I don’t recognize that she might have been having a bad day. I mean who knows what was going on in her life. But, I laugh because in one way or another, I have been her.
We get agitated at some noise, someone, or any other convenience as if it is interrupting our practice – the peace and quiet we have painstakingly carved out of our day to try to gain some mental sanity. It’s as if we are saying ‘I am trying to be a better person here so can you please just fuck off?’ This tactic hasn’t worked so well for me, but you can certainly try it.
Many times I have heard from teachers (and said myself) that whatever shows up right now is your practice. Usually, this is said with a smile in the setting of a lavender-smelling room filled with blankets and soft things to rest your head on. It’s like this magic key to the universe of living a peaceful and serene life for all of eternity. While yes, there is a lot of wisdom in this idea, no, it is not always so easy. But, it is often the place where we feel the most resistance where there is opportunity for growth.
I have thought of the meditation sauna woman this week when just about every morning as soon as I sit on my cushion to practice, I hear my son calling from upstairs. “Mama!” he calls out. Darn it, I think, but compose myself, go upstairs and eventually bring him down. He sits on my lap holding my timer letting me know how much time is left just about every minute.
Finally, this morning I woke up and the house was quiet. I walked downstairs trying to avoid the creaky spots on the old pine flooring. A few minutes into sitting, I started to make a mental list of what I have to do today so we can leave for the holiday, I began to wonder if the furnace was going to explode and I started to get pissed off about that thing someone who I will never see again said to me 10 years ago. I take a deep breath and remember how sweet it is to have company sometimes.