I was at yoga the other day, rolling my forehead on the floor – as is my wont – when I had a bit of a revelation.
The guy next to me really and truly stinks.
I paid good money for that, you know.
You can have it for free: Some people really stink.
Not that this was just any kind of stink. Truly, this was a deep stink, the stink of goats, the kind of stink that says, “Deodorant? Whatever for? I’m as natural as I was meant to be.”
A noticeable and impressive stink.
“Inhale,” the instructor advises. “And exhale. Inhale. And exhale.”
She has no idea what she’s asking for.
I remind myself that the world is full of distractions and that unpleasant smells are a part of it. I tell myself that I go to yoga to center myself, to quiet the chatter of my monkey mind.
Yeah, says the monkey. But this guy stinks!
I tell my monkey to shut up.
The monkey flings mental poop at the inside of my head, suggests that I fret, kvetch, and complain, anything but concentrate and assume responsibility for my practice. The monkey believes that if I stop what I am doing, perhaps work up an inner boil of some sort over how horrible this person is for breaking my concentration with his stench that I will be righteous in doing so.
The monkey is my constant companion.
I beat the monkey down with an internal promise of a good 15 minutes of freestyle irritation later in the week.
Eventually, of course, I am distracted from Stink Boy by my need to breathe in conjunction with movement, by the difficulty of the poses, by the unnaturally warm room; and after an hour, I find myself at the end of the class, exhausted and covered with sweat.
We are rolling up our mats when he looks over, offers me a big happy smile.
And the monkey and I smile back.