I was in a hurry to get to my class and it happened. I got stuck in a supermarket queue with the world’s slowest scanner girl. It started off ok, with me and the girl. I can do this, I can breathe through her slowness and see that we are connected as one in this world. I am a yoga teacher and student, this is child’s play. Then the worst thing happened. The woman in front of me had lost her card and they had to reverse her order. I was trapped in the queue and I could feel the tension building. I did a quick calculation of how many groceries I had and multiplied it by 10 seconds each. This calculation was the undoing of me. I can’t breathe through this now. If I breathe through this I will expire in the queue as this supermarket sucks out my last remaining breaths.
Finally I get to the front and she is smiling and scanning, smiling and scanning. I am no longer smiling, I am late and I am important and I am going to blow. Then it erupts out of me like poison, ‘can’t you just hurry up, I’m late’.
So where did all that enlightenment go? Where did my love and patience go to for that brief moment? What is wrong with me? I am defunct yogi, going nowhere on the spiritual path. May as well give up now.
How not to give up in the supermarket (or anywhere).
The duration of your practice is for the duration of your life.
You can’t make progress if you dabble tasting a bit of this and that and not committing fully, giving up when it gets tough or giving in when you feel defeated. The practice is a life long commitment and there will be good times and then there will be supermarket moments.Practice Abhyasa, the Sanskrit word for steady effort in the direction you want to go.
Fully Belly, open heart.
It’s easy to be spiritually advanced when you are happy, full and have slept well. The real practice is when you are tired and hate yourself. This is the time to dig it in, to keep the embers lit, to not give up.
Have another crack.
Try not to make your practice your enemy. It is your friend. If you slip get up. If you forget don’t start an argument with yourself. If you fail don’t cling to the failure. Practice is skill in action, the real skill is to keep going.
A deeper source.
Our best work in our life comes from a deep well. If we cultivate the qualities we wish to embody, love, patience, generosity, then naturally these things will come to us. On the other hand just trying to be loving or generous or kind will not last, they are just cover ups. Work deep, plant your seeds for what you desire and tend them well.
Practice for today: What do you want to cultivate today? Patience, generosity, love? In what ways can you truly mesh these qualities into the essence of yourself making them part of your DNA?