Yoga in Action – Taking the GRE
This afternoon, I walked in an ETS testing center with my heart about to sommersault out of my chest and my hands so sweaty they could have used a tub of anti-perspirant.
I had been preparing for the GRE for two months, and by “preparing”, I mean “staring intensely at my GRE prep book until it loomed over me like Mount Doom of Mordor”, all those obscure esoteric words, all those forgotten math equations, time ticking down, anxiety level up, way up.
When I took my GRE prep course, I was a little surprised when my instructor told us to visualize and meditate as part of our preparation. It makes so much sense, of course, athletes have been doing this for years to prepare for their competition.
So, back to the crime scene, there I was, so freaked out about the GRE, but thankfully a part of me pulled back and said, “ah, so this is fear.” A part of me recognized the klesha abhinivesah, and for a quick second, I went back to my yoga classroom when we discussed fear in sutra 2.3, mostly, the fear of death. Well, I guess I’m really not going to *die*, I thought to myself.
Sensing that my heart was now thumping into the next county, I started to consciously breathe, long inhalation, long exhalation, in and out of my nose. I went out in my car, put on my headphones, and listened to a guided practice by Shinzen Young, Break Through Difficult Emotions, for a couple minutes.
I could feel my physical body relax, and my brain followed. During the breaks, I went out in the hall and did modified Downdog at the wall, and repeatedly told myself no matter what happened, I really was not going to die a horrible death :).
My teacher Judith Lasater said, “It’s not that if we do yoga we don’t get angry, it’s that we are very clear when we are angry”. In this case, I would say, it’s not that if we do yoga, we don’t have to go to Mordor, it’s that we are very clear when we are in Mordor.