It was supposed to be a quick stop to fill my almost-empty tank. And it would have been, except…
Somehow, the car door locked.
With the keys in the car.
And my phone.
I pulled on the door handle a couple of times, as if it would magically open. I tried the other doors, too. As you do.
This was really happening.
I was locked out of the car.
Actual first thought: Fuck. Now what?
A man suggested I call AAA. Ah, right. Ok. Notably he did not offer me a phone to do so.
Fortunately the service attendant inside was willing to help. She graciously looked up the number, dialed, and handed me the phone.
The AAA operator was able to look up my membership information. She didn’t even sound surprised. Apparently this happens often. She processed my request for help, and said she would highlight the service request as a priority because I was blocking the pump.
I returned the phone to the service attendant at 1:25 pm.
And that’s when the real work started.
* * *
Ironically, I had just posted to my Instagram stories this yoga wisdom:
Setting up the pose is only the beginning. Once you’re in it, you uncover information.
The AAA service tech arrived about an hour after I called for assistance. It took him under 2 minutes to unlock the car.
The hour I waited was my yoga practice.
The Yoga Practice
How do you show up when you’re stripped of control?
How do respond when you’re sitting in a web of uncertainty?
Often, we seek to escape.
I noticed my impulse to want to journal about this, take pictures, post to social media, or research how to unlock car doors. I noticed my desire to escape into reading or scrolling. Or to soothe myself with snacks.
But these and other forms of escape were unavailable to me. Everything I had with me was locked in the car.
I was stripped down to the barest of essentials:
My body, my mind, and my awareness of the thoughts and sensations flowing through me.
This was the practice.
- Where do I go when all of my escape routes are unavailable?
- How do I respond when I’m not in control?
- How do I show up when situations get difficult?
- How was I breathing? Was I even breathing?
- Where was my body?
- Where was my mind?
- What were the voices in my head saying?
- Was I placing blame on on something or someone else? On myself?
- Did I go into victim mode?
- Did I seek to commiserate with anyone who would pause to hear my story?
And then the next layer:
I was taking up space, just by my mere existence, inconveniencing dozens of other people who pulled into this station at this time on this day.
- Did I feel the need to apologize for taking up space?
- Did I feel bad for inconveniencing people?
The pose is the the portal to noticing.
At the Mobile station on North Bedford Road in Mount Kisco, this was my pose. This was my practice. This was my yoga.
What I Noticed
I noticed a moment of irritation at myself that quickly passed.
Shit happens. It could happen to anyone. It happens all the time.
I noticed that my initial impulse to escape quickly faded into surrender, and gratitude for not having the distractions available to me.
I noticed I didn’t feel the urge to play the victim or unload my “burdens” on anyone. It didn’t feel like a big deal.
I noticed I occasionally felt bad about people having to go around, until I noticed how many of them did so seemingly without a second glance.
I noticed how calm I was.
I noticed how other people reacted. Any inconvenience they perceived was their yoga, not mine.
I noticed that I was grateful for this experience.
It was a gift.
3 gifts, to be exact.
3 Gifts of the Practice
(1) The gift of time and space to be.
How often do we dream of time and space to be?
Suddenly it was given to me, and without the temptation of distractions or the pretense of busyness that often usurps that time.
To be clear, I had places to go. I had plenty of things to do. I let them go, for the moment.
What was the point in worrying about them when I was locked out of the car?
I couldn’t go anywhere until AAA service tech came to unlock the car.
Might as well enjoy the beautiful late summer day and the warm weather.
(2) The gift of finding freedom in not having control.
I did what I could. I called for help. I set things in motion.
Now it was out of my hands. Nothing for me to do but wait.
Hang out, breathe, enjoy the feeling of the warm sun on my shoulders.
Surrender to the greater plan.
This was the gift of freedom. I felt a lightness of being, a joy in having no responsibility for the moment.
(3) The gift of seeing my own growth.
A decade ago, I would have been pacing the area, going back inside every 20 minutes (or more) to check on updates.
I would have been a nervous wreck, stressing myself out for no constructive end-goal.
I would have played my little violin for anyone who would listen.
Woe is me. I’m a victim. Even if of myself.
This time, there was no anxiety. No victim mode. No self-judgment or berating.
The inner voice was calm and reassuring.
These things happen. Help is on the way.
The Practice of Coming Home to Yourself
Yoga is a practice of coming home to yourself, of finding your own true nature.
At the Mobil station on North Bedford Road I came home.
I realized that there’s a reason people come to me when their lives erupt and are filled with uncertainty.
Calm and steady, taking it in stride, not getting wrapped up in the drama.
Our commercialized culture has indoctrinated you to believe you can find yourself only at far away retreats.
The truth is, this practice is always available to you.
On the mat. In the studio. In line at the grocery store. Even at the gas station.
That said, next time you stop to fill up… you might want to hold on to your keys.