How to Be…Quiet
by Lindsay Timmington
Whoa. Breaking out the big guns with the challenge early on, huh yoga_girl? Anyone who knows me, knows that this is not my forte. Quiet I am not. Ask my downstairs neighbor, or my friends, or anyone who’s had the pleasure of dating me-wait, never mind.
So Day 2 of the #yogaeverydamnday challenge is “Meditate.” Oy. I flash back to yoga teacher training in Hawaii during the meditation portion of training. I sucked at meditation, however I made some great grocery lists, began some seriously good plays and had conversations with mortal enemies that would never come to fruition, but finding that inner quiet and peace, that nirvana that is meditation? Didn’t really happen.
I’ve purchased bolsters and incense and candles and cd’s but the fact remains, my monkey mind translates into a monkey body and I get real uncomfortable real fast. Which when you think about it…is kind of the point. One of the benefits of meditation is the “stuff” that a quiet mind and body dredge up…the crap that bubbles to the surface and forces us to look straight on often manifests in nausea, dizziness and other various feelings of discomfort. Its like a cleanse for the mind. I love the way I feel after meditating, like I do after a run, but like running, I spend a good portion of the time cursing each and every person and thought that crosses my path.
So faced with this challenge today, I went to the place where I most like to meditate. My yoga studio. When I go to my extremely expensive-but-so-very-worth-it classes I get there twenty minutes to a half hour early to attempt to meditate. This is a bit counterintuitive as the asana (physical practice) is usually practice so that one can sit still enough to mediate after, and meditation is really the heart of yoga. But like so many other things in life, I do it ass backwards.
My studio is usually empty-ish this early and I grab two blocks and make my way into a restorative heart opener. I know that as soon as I settle, as soon as I take that deep breath in and feel my body relax into the pose,and my mind begin the mantra “om shanti’ the door will swing open and people will stomp into the studio. These people will do their best elephant impression, and do it with the sole intention of pissing me off, obviously. They will throw their mats angrily to the floor and begin to chit-chat with their neighbor as if in a trendy wine bar at happy hour. My body will tense and my mind will jump from the singular “om shanti’ it HAD BEEN chanting in peace to, “what the fuck is wrong with these people?” and then, if I’m lucky, back to “om shanti” again until the door swings open and another noisy gaggle enters. My butt and jaw will clench simultaneously and I will have the conversation with myself that will last until the instructor prompts us to begin:
“Come on, Timmington. You can do this. Just quiet down. Find the breath. Om shanti. Om shanti. Om shanti.”
“Fuck this SHIT! Who the fuck are these assholes?! You weigh 78 lbs! Walk softly! Carry big mat!”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa…that’s not yogic at ALL. You better reign it in, sister. Focus on the mantra, find your breath. You got this. It’s just noise. Just sound frequency or some science business that that one teacher told you once. Just sound. Breathe. Omshanti.”
“Wave and sound frequency, MY ASS. These people are being SO RUDE. They see me laying here, this is a yoga class, not jazzercise circa 1982, this is a quiet sacred place for people seeking solitude and refuge from the hectic world outside, they are a bunch of self-indulgent, narcissistic ass-clowns who don’t care about other people let alone-
“Oh my GOD, girl!? Seriously? Unless you have bedbugs on that mat, it is not necessary for you to spray it down contamination style—honestly?! I can’t even think-
“No but listen-this is ridiculous-I got here a half-hour early to meditate and what the sweet hell is wrong with these people, they see me laying here, do they think I’m napping? Or dead? Either way, BE QUIET! It’s so damn rude-
“Fine, but first I’m just gonna peek open one eye and take a look at whoever it is THAT INSISTS ON TALKING AT FULL VOLUME-“
“Gah! I see her! She sees me! Why is she STILL talking?! Can’t she-“
“Alright, everyone please make their way to a seated position and we’ll begin-“
And thus begins and ends my meditation practice. I know it sounds masochistic to place myself in a situation where I know my monkey mind will swing freely from thought to thought, distracting me and generally pissing me off but I also know that it’s probably the best place for me to practice meditation because it brings up the parts of me that I need to work the most on. My judgement, my impatience, my self-righteousness, my-me-my-me-my-it’s-all-about-me-ness. This is where I need to meditate because this is where all my crap bubbles to the surface faster than anywhere else. At home I can have a lovely Yoga Nidra practice (bonus nap!) and I can sit in meditation fairly easily for twenty minutes, but prior to my yoga practice it seems right, it feels right and does it show me how incredibly powerful thought is.
And that tattoo? I put it on my wrist two years ago, after making the decision to get divorced and having wanted-nee-needed that tattoo inked onto my body since completing yoga teacher training. My little sister took me to someone she’d been referred to who seemed cool at the time but when I sat in the chair didn’t realize was high on codeine thanks to a buggery little kidney stone. I asked for a small-ish henna colored tattoo of the phrase “Om Shanti” which was the mantra that I found myself saying repeatedly as I tried not to kill my husband’s girlfriends, my husband or myself during those years prior to the divorce. I wanted it to be my touchstone, my reminder that peace, as cliche as it sounds, really does come from within and is up to each of us to find within ourselves. I wanted it to be my time-out when monkey-mind went wild, my permanent reminder that it was up to me to find what I was looking for.
And what I ended up with is a red, crooked-ass tattoo of the Sanskrit phrase, “Om Shanti.” I got it in the midst of my divorce when I was desperately searching for peace. Om Shanti was my favorite mantra during yoga teacher training, meditation practice and was my go to when times got rough. I got it in hopes that I’d have a permanent reminder that peace comes from within, a physical touchstone to turn to. What I got was the most imperfect tattoo I can imagine thanks to a tattoo artist who was hopped up on codeine as a result of kidney stones. It’s the wrong color, inconsistent, crooked and I cried for a week after I got it done. And then I realized, that in a beautifully karmic way this is what peace looks likes. It’s often hard fought for, a little bit crooked and not at all perfect. But it’s peace, and if you can find it who cares how it looks?