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By Kristen Pagacz

This is a true story of a recent life experience. When I look back on it, it’s a great metaphor for living one’s life with the distraction of OCD. 

I remember when I was in the deep throes of my illness, yoga was out of the question. As a form of relaxation, my OCD doctor suggested it to me, so I tried it. I lasted about ten seconds then had to excuse myself and dart out of the class. My anxiety, obsessions and compulsions lead the way. Relaxing appeared to be a luxury that I could only dream of; it felt so out of reach. 

It had been quite some time since I treated myself to a yoga class. But today, in the here and now, somehow, I managed to escape the flurry of distractions that life offers up, like taking care of the many things on my to-do list. 

“Let’s begin by laying down on our mats, toes facing the ceiling and arms stretched up and over our heads. Close your eyes and pay attention to your breath. Find your breath, follow your breath, let it help you get into this moment. I ask you to be here with me now. Don’t think about what you’ve already done this morning, don’t think about this afternoon, and what you are going to do. Clear your mind and come to your mat.”

The room was comfortably dim. The calming music sounded good in this otherwise very quiet room. I was ready to give myself over—release my chilled muscles and cold Michigan bones and leave them all on the mat.

Ah. This felt good. I wasn’t at war with myself, my brain wasn’t chewing over anything, and I wasn’t in traffic. I wasn’t standing behind someone in line at the grocery store. I was here, and peace was unfurling. Truly relaxing seemed so in reach and I was so ready for it. 

And then, it began…

The quietness I was enjoying started to get stuffed. Stuffed full of unexpected and unwanted sounds. It sounded like a herd of cattle stomping across the floor right up above us. “That’s weird.” I thought. “The only thing up there is that empty gymnasium I passed on my way down here.”

Then my yoga teacher shared, ”By the way,” then from above came the first thud, then…thud, thud, thud, thud, thud “for the next 6 weeks” thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud, thud “there’s going to be a young boys’ basketball league being taught upstairs on Saturday mornings during our class.” Thud, thud, thud, thud, thud.

At first, I felt incredibly disappointed. MY JOY AND MY TIME TO RELAX IS RUINED! My new feelings of sadness started to fill me up quickly like the pounding of little sneakers filled up that once quiet and empty gymnasium. I recognized that I was at a crossroads. Do I let the bombarding sounds of little feet steal this opportunity away from me, or do I press on? Can I do my best to just let the little pounders pound as I go on with my practice?

I chose to go on with my practice. I didn’t allow the noise distraction to shut me down or sully my mood. I just allowed the noises to be.  

Interestingly, while I was enjoying my special time of breathing and stretching, the thuds seemed to fade away. Although they didn’t go away completely, I was able to re-route my expectations. It was as though the thuds became part of the whole. They played their part, adding a texture to the experience.

At the conclusion of each yoga class, the teacher places her hands in prayer position over her heart, and quietly and thoughtfully says, “Namaste.” What she is saying is that the light in her honors the light in me. 

After enjoying the bliss, I got myself fully bundled in all my winter gear which consisted of my jacket, earmuffs, scarf, and mittens. Next, I headed upstairs.

Was I now so evolved, that when I walked by the little guys running back and forth, sharing noises that can only be made when rubber drags across wood, that I said a quiet “Namaste” to them? No, no, and no. I did not become a monk filled with only gratitude for everything, after just one return visit to yoga class. After all, I was still me—just a lot more relaxed. 

I noticed another change within me, too. My heart felt warmer and a bit more open than when I first arrived to class. I took closer note of my surroundings and saw a sea of beaming faces. It was all the faces of the proud and smiling parents, as they kept a close eye on their child, who was running around aimlessly with exuberance trying to play basketball. 

For a moment, their collective love was my love. I got to feel a dose of radiance deep inside of me. The radiance that only love creates. I had a little glow, hidden well beneath my winter bundle. Ahhh. The glow felt like a beautiful shade of orange, and the snowflakes, which were joyously waiting for me outside, were a million shades of white.

If you enjoyed this blog and would like to read more from this author, Kirsten Pagacz, her newly reissued book is:

Conquering Your State of Anxiety” is currently on sale for 30% off on Mango.bz @mangopulishinggroup until January 31st.

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