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I was on Day 29 of my 30 day yoga challenge. I walked into the yoga studio feeling good, one of my favorite teachers was teaching and my favorite spot in the room was free. It was 7:30am class, so I knew most of the students and it was nice to chat with them before we got started.

Then, someone I didn’t know set up her mat directly behind me, in the otherwise sparsely populated room. She flopped around during class, drinking in the middle of postures and muttering loudly while she dried off with her towel, as if she had just stepped out of the bath.

I demolished her.

With my mind.

I ranted and raved for 90 minutes about how annoying she was. I absolutely hated the stupid little skirt she was wearing – seriously – who wears a skirt to yoga? So stupid. I rolled my third eye and spewed venom.

And then I felt terrible.

After class, I realized that I barely even noticed my practice, as I was so occupied destroying hers. I felt like such a horrible person. I felt awful that I was contributing to the negativity of the world and I wanted to crawl in a dark little hole with my dark little mind where the only person I could criticize was myself. All these attempts at spiritual growth and personal awareness were not working. I was bitchy and judgmental, and no amount of meditation or yoga or Buddha statues on my bookshelf would fix that.

I went home and pouted and sat on the couch with my horrible self. I continued to read Yoga and the Search for the True Self in the hopes that maybe Stephan Cope could save a wretch like me.

And he did.

He discussed a study of some super spiritual people, and it was found that they don’t have fewer negative thoughts or experiences in their lives. What makes them different is the way they deal with the negativity. They just let those negative thoughts and feelings float on by, without attaching or identifying with them. They don’t judge them and own them and wear them like a hair shirt of shame. They just observed; Oh, there goes my mind again. But they understand that they are not their mind.

What a freeing concept.

It reminded me of a conversation with a friend of mine, who I consider to be the most enlightened person I know. She told me that sometimes she gets in the hot room for her yoga practice, and it’s all “Hate Soup” in her brain.

Hate Soup? She has Hate Soup, too?

It was a revelation to me. If these fany-pants monks and my incredibly conscious friend sometimes stew in the Hate Soup, I’m not alone. This is part of the interconnectedness of  all of us. Maybe if I just surrender to the tendencies of the mind and laugh at it like a crazed puppy chasing its tail — maybe that is the true spiritual growth.

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