real life

by blogasana on June 5, 2011

                                                  {photo via}

Our business neighbors, an antique store, with whom we share a wall recently started playing very loud and ridiculously bad music. Think cheap Phantom of the Opera meets overdone City of Angels.

Since I typically don’t use music in class, particularly in Savasana, the strange and eery music coming from it’s-hard-to-tell-where has caused my blood pressure to rise.

In the early days of the studio when we were next door to a coffee shop, I used to get really tense at the amount of sound and distraction outside.

Dogs would bark while waiting for their people, those people would stand right outside and have boisterous conversations, and the banging that is apparently necessary to make lattes and frappes would all be more than I could take.

I can’t say that at some point I did not shush someone through the window.

Yes, I’ve been that person.

But all in fierce protection of the students and their Yoga experience. I believe that, to some extent, people pay to come into a distraction-free zone. A place — perhaps the only place — where they are not bombarded with sounds and stimulation.

When we moved locations we left the lattes behind and found new sounds: motorcycles on the main road in front of the studio, people walking by and window shopping (peeking), and now creepy Phantom Angel music.

But let me tell you about a little shift that has happened lately.

A loud motorcycle outside: Mmm, the deep vibration of life.
The sound of the freeway: Ah… the indistinguishable hum of an Om.
The crappy music through the wall: Well, this is real life and sometimes it’s distracting in unwelcome ways.

And how, amid all of this, can we stay in our own experience?

Not follow the motorcycle down the street and on to imagined destinations.
Not imagine the store where someone finds such awful music.
Not go from the awful music to Gee, I wonder if they still have that bench I saw in the window last week.

Can we just meet life where we are, as it is? Without pushing anything away; without grabbing on. Just the simple reality of being alive and experiencing the fullness of a moment. This is the union of Yoga.

So bring it on chatty people walking down the street. Give us something to rub up against, something to play with. Bring your dog, while you’re at. We’ll be meeting life as it is, including your offering to the soundtrack.

Meanwhile, I’m going to talk to the neighbor about turning down that God-awful music.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy --- Just A Titch June 5, 2011 at 1:09 am

When I first started teaching I found myself perpetually annoyed by the “stuff” students brought into the classroom (bad days…questions…not grasping things as soon as I thought they should). Now, I find that I relish that stuff because it makes class much more “real” and gives me more teachable moments. And sure, it still pisses me off sometimes, but I’ve found that when I just let it go and work with what I’ve got, my life is easier.

Lovely post. Also, I miss you.


blogasana June 6, 2011 at 4:36 pm

beautiful. and so true! miss u too… xoxo


Ryan June 5, 2011 at 2:29 am

The last sentence is why I love and adore you.


denice June 6, 2011 at 4:21 pm



blogasana June 6, 2011 at 4:36 pm



Ellie June 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

I love this. As nice as it is to have a zen-like spa yoga experience, where the only sounds you hear are gentle chirping birds and the occasional crash of ocean waves…. you’re right, that’s not reality most of the time. And part of what yoga does for us is it allows us to acknowledge that unpleasant stuff is going on (whether it’s noise, or pain, or incessant thoughts) without assigning stories to the stuff, without dwelling on it and letting it take over our lives. It’s practice for life, not an escape from life, so there’s something valuable in it.

But yeah, hopefully they’ll turn it down a weeee bit for you. :)


blogasana June 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm

ellie – thanks for the comment! yes – “it’s a practice for life, not an escape from life” — beautiful!! the perfect, zen-like experience is artificial and not that helpful once we walk out of the room. aaaaand, hopefully they turn it down :)


Madeleine June 5, 2011 at 3:06 pm

At least our students have a sense of humor. The first time that music starting floating into our Friday morning class, a very funny someone suggested it was because of the rapture.


blogasana June 6, 2011 at 4:38 pm

leave it to the yogis to be funny!


Leili Learning Life June 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm

I’ve always appreciated the way you’ve addressed/allowed for the outside distractions during class — the reminders that while everyday life is buzzing about outside the studio walls, that we remain safe indoors and inside our bodies.

As Amy mentioned, I think these are real “teachable moments,” valuable lessons to take off the mat. Real life is messy and imperfect, and (at least for me) some days it can be hard to accept what is and to stop grasping for the ideal. And just because my meditation is full of mind chatter, or the cat steps over my belly during savasana doesn’t mean that my practice isn’t incredibly beneficial.

But yeah, that music is particularly creepy to me in that I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from the first time I heard it. I was getting ready for my Intro class and went back to the stereo 3 times to make sure it wasn’t playing a random CD…!


blogasana June 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm

messy and imperfect – absolutely (maybe only for the two of us:)

i relate to your checking of the stereo — i did that too!

thanks for the comment, leili xoxo


Cecile June 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm

aaah if only we had maxwell smart’s cone of silence. but i must share, that because of the constant din in the city, when it is too quiet, i am distracted by the ringing in my ears. so my focus then goes back to the breath and that is how i am led inward and not to the lovely bench. who is the city noise in the gita?


blogasana June 6, 2011 at 4:47 pm

that’s so funny, cecile! mary has talked about how when people go to cuba to teach with her they can’t meditate at first b/c it’s so loud… then they come home and can’t meditate b/c it’s too quiet!

the breath… always a good path back, eh?

the city noise in the gita… what a great question. he has so much going on, so many voices and distractions. i’m not sure. i think most of his influence is from persuasive voices or internal voices. can’t think of where the “city noise” is/comes from. if you figure it out, let me know!! xo


denice June 6, 2011 at 4:20 pm

The grinding on my ego related to chattering yogis waiting for the next class. They still chatter away, but I’ve come to hear them as those big chattering black birds. Just another gift of Nature!


blogasana June 6, 2011 at 4:49 pm

what an awesome image — those big squawking black birds!! love it. thanks denice!!


Kelley M June 7, 2011 at 11:28 pm

I guess I’m not as well trained as all of you lovely yogi’s yet. I get a little high and mighty and wonder “where people get off??” It makes my blood pressure go up and I can’t stop focusing on the noise. Yes, I’m high strung, but maybe my yogi friends can continue to shape and mold me into a better person someday. Until then, peace and quiet are essential to the body, mind and spirit and if we can’t get it where we expect it then it’s just another obstacle on the course of life and a let down to an expectation. I am so hopeful that your neighbors will turn it down because I haven’t ever heard this music yet and I know it would bother me. However, if you need me to get all crazy on their asses just let me know. I have loud neighbors who certainly think I’m nuts now given all the times I’ve had to ask them for peace in MY OWN HOME but at least they are quieter. LOL


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