My husband likes to quote the Stoic philosophers to me. One of his favorite quotes is: "When you go to the public baths, you have to expect some splashing." I'm not sure how close this is to the original, but you get the idea: whenever you are out in public, you are going to encounter other people who may or may not wear too much perfume, talk too loudly on their cellphones, sit in the seat you wanted, step on your toes in dance class, or find other ways to annoy you.
Yesterday, I taught a class called Yoga for a Stressful World. And during that single hour, I encountered more stress than I normally do in a day. A week. Possibly an entire year.
First, it was a gray and rainy day. Not just dismal, but rain and wind combined. Our morning walk with the dogs consisted of ducking and tucking our chins into our chests to avoid the rain whipping across our faces. So less than half of my students showed up for class. Not a disaster, but not awesome.
Then the metal roof above our studio began to vibrate. This was not a subtle sound. No, it was more like a machine gun or a jackhammer. I wondered how securely the roof was bolted to the building, as there was nothing above our heads but those thin metal sheets! I had to simply stop speaking every time a gust shook the roof as my words were drowned out by the staccato hammering.
During a lull in the roof racket, as we eased our bodies down to the floor for our final relaxation, two women entered through a door I had closed, wheeled a stroller into the corner of the classroom, and continued a conversation loud enough for everyone in class to hear. I sat up, surprised, and said, "We're having a yoga class in here!" As if this fact were not obvious to anyone who cared to see.
I am not lying when I tell you that one of the women looked at me as if annoyed and said, "So?"
Now when the Stoics were considering their trips to the public baths, were they thinking other bathers might throw water directly into their faces? On purpose?
This is when I started to feel like a stress magnet.
Here I am, leading a class which is supposed to RELIEVE the stresses of the world, and instead, the stresses of the world are literally invading the studio and poking their sharp claws into my tender belly.
Later, when I whined to my husband about my stressful encounter, he reminded me that my life isn't really so tough. Sometimes, in the heat of the stressful moment, it can be difficult to remember how good you've got it. I mean, that lady was rude to me!!! I'm sure my adrenaline shot through the metal roof in that moment! But looking back on it, she is probably way more stressed out that I am. More stressed out than I will ever be. And my life is amazingly good. So good, in fact, I rarely encounter nasty splashers at the public baths. (And when I do, I am terribly shocked and traumatized.)
If you are reading this blog right now, and feeling stressed out, remember that you also have it pretty good. You have a roof over your head, and it is not vibrating like a AK-47. You have a computer of some sort or maybe an I-pad or a smartphone. Maybe all three! You have a fridge full of food and money in your bank account. You might even have a yoga teacher who tries her best to reduce your stress levels. Or a husband who brings you back to reality. When you feel like a stress magnet, keep all of this in mind.