The Plagued Parent

posts about surviving our children, the Baby Boomers who raised us, and everyone else with an opinion...

Welcome All Sounds

It’s just after 730 pm and I am in line at CVS. Once again our house is in the grips of another raging sinus infection and the realization that we were out of nighttime sinus medication hit me just as I changed into sweats and finished clearing away a pile of my daughter’s snot filled tissues that filled the space between the couch and the coffee table.

Fine, I’ll go.

shopping at cvsAll I want is to get in and get out of the store — guerrilla shopping.

But no such luck.

At the register an older woman, the only other customer in the entire CVS at that moment, slowly unloads a carriage full of crap. Paper towels, 12-packs of soda, bags of candy, shampoo, cat food, Pringles — I mean, honestly.

She knows I’m in a hurry, right?  It’s cold out, I have what I came for, my head is pounding and I just want to get home.

Then she starts with the coupons. She forgot hers at home and asks the clerk for a flyer. As a matter of fact, the clerk adds, I do have a flyer.

Really?!? C’mon!

Then the well-meaning clerks asks her if she wants to sign up for e-mail receipts, coupons and specials. Oh, that’d be nice, the woman replies.

Argh!

I’m on the verge of losing what little patience I do posses. I stare at the five other open registers and inspect the line which has actually grown behind me. Apparently other people in their pajamas realized their kids needed cold medicine before bed too.

In my head I can almost hear a ‘snap’.

Breathe… it will be over soon…

Part of our human struggle is to sidestep breaking. Or, at least that’s what we believe. Disruptions occur at the hands of strangers and loved ones alike. Cultivating calm in the face of disturbance is a challenging gift.

Last week, as I and the rest of the yoga class lay in Shavasana trying to calm our collective breath, our yoga teacher spoke after a seemingly eternal silence. “Your peace of mind,” she said, “is not fragile.”

Breathe.

“Peace of mind is not fragile,” she reiterated, “because it cannot be broken by anyone except yourself.”

Like most advice that seems sound, it takes time to hear. Shavasana is the “dead man’s pose”; it is typically the pose used to finish Vinyasa practice. You lie on your back, eyes closed, palms facing up in an effort to calm the breath and end the practice. In that context, lying dead on the floor, it is easy to remain calm and peaceful; it’s easy to relax and feel in control.

However, when you’re leaving the yoga studio and you’re stuck at the intersection and fighting to exit the strip mall it becomes a tedious battle with shoppers leaving Stop and Shop, caffeine junkies weaving out of Starbucks and the fast food addicts swerving from Wendy’s, the Wendy’s that our town swore we’d never have.

How Annoying.

“Welcome all sound,” that’s what the yoga instructor often says at the end of practice. “Don’t fight against them; let them in.”

church bells ring But all too often we judge these sounds as disturbances, as startling crashes, and persistent white noise. We face backed up traffic, endless appointments and tedious tasks, our daily grind tugs at our day, occasional illnesses with their fleeting aches and pains… and of course all the other people in the world around us.

Sometimes we see all this “noise” as unwelcome; our peace disturbed by those around us.

Clearly its all their fault, we say. You disturb and annoy me. Go away! Screw you! Shut up! Stop!

Is it really their fault that we can’t breathe and stay calm? Is it really their fault that we become annoyed by the inconvenient imperfections of others? Is it really anyone else’s fault that we can’t cultivate our own patience?

Why fight what is?

When we welcome in all sounds, forcing our individual ego on the world becomes un-necessary — we blend with everything the present moment contains. Perhaps then being in a hurry and getting stuck behind someone with a full carriage of crap at CVS won’t “hurt” so much once we embrace it.

But seeing this and being this are two separate things.

Maybe the trick then becomes to hear it, even when the last thing we feel like listening too is the rising of the bells.

Updated: February 13, 2017 — 8:22 am

16 Comments

  1. Between sickness and the snow, I’ve been cooped up with the kids for a full week. Deep breaths and prayers for patience have been a common occurrence here. Hope everyone feels better soon.

    1. We’re getting there, Jeremy. Thank you for your well-wishes and for reading. Good luck with the kids…

  2. I’ve been there. Sick kid, sick wife, sick me. Scrambling tryung to take care of everything so you can relax, but it’s not to be. One day at a time.

    1. True words, Frank, thank you. Hope everyone is on the mend.

  3. Why fight what is….I love this line. It is exactly what I am working on right now.

  4. We have had the flu here, twice. Must have been two different viruses. So I have insight into your situation. Twice over. Especially into lying in Shavasana with a blocked nose and a cough.

    1. Ran into this again the other night as the lack of breath woke me around 1230. The runny nose and cough are a universal experience. Thanks for sharing (your comments and not the viruses) 🙂

  5. It drives me nuts when I’m at CVS or Rite Aid and somebody treated the place like it is a grocery store! Saved five bucks with coupons and still paid 30% more in costs than if they just went the extra few blocks to the damn grocery store!

  6. Sounds are one of the things I find most difficult to ignore and not become stressed by. I find annoying sounds claustrophobic in some way. It’s one of the things I dislike about crowds. I find the overwhelming noise of large crowds really oppressive. Particularly crowds that chant like sports crowds. It makes me feel trapped and on edge, and I find it very hard to ignore them or remain relaxed.

    1. That does sound difficult. Noises have never really bothered me unless they’re high-pitched, or super-loud and constant (car alarm, jack-hammer type sounds). Lately I’ve noticed I don’t care for really crowded situations (malls, concerts) where there’s a crush of people. A couple years ago we were in Times Square in NY when the city was reworking the sidewalks. Chainlink fencing funneled what seemed like thousands of us into a tiny little space to cross a street. We held hands, my heart raced, but then I looked up and all was clear blue sky. Shortly we were free and on our way to the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum.

  7. I have struggled with the noise lately. Like seriously. The girls are running mad, we haven’t had our own separate spaces for near a month. This is a blessing, such a great gift, but I miss my time to write. My time to focus on things that are important to me, I have somehow lost that with the space as a factor. My writing is affected, and sadly I’ve noticed over the past weekend and week that my mood has been effected as well. I’m embarrassed for my behavior, it’s not who I am, and I feel it is the turmoil of trying to fight the noise to focus.

    Last night instead of blogging, sharing, or anything I just turned off my computer, so I could just take in the noise without seeing it was a disturbance, and I slept so peacefully, and through most the day was okay until once again I returned to trying to work with the noise. This weekend this chapter of the displacement ends, and a new one begins and I need to strive to find some balance. I will keep accepting the noise in mind in this search.

    1. Don’t be so hard on yourself. We are human. If you are irritated and find the current situation a bother it’s normal to react that way — you are not your reactions; your reactions are simply who you are at that particular moment. Deep down you know this, which is why you took the time to be still. The greatest source of our own personal miseries is desiring something other what we have in front of us. To accept the situation as it is, other people as they are, and ourselves in the now is not what we’ve been trained to do. We constantly fight to “fix”, to make “better”, to “change” — this usually takes us further from our destinations, further from being…

  8. “Peace of mind is not fragile,” she reiterated, “because it cannot be broken by anyone except yourself.”

    This, 100%. I am working on cultivating peace and evaluating my emotions before I react to things, something that is slow to learn but has gotten more responsive. I grew up infatuated with stoic teachings, and I feel they mesh with modern sensibilities, especially coupled with yoga or some other active practice of being aware of your reactions.

    How long have you yoga-ed? Practiced yoga? Did the yoga? However you say it.

    1. Been at this yoga thing over a year, and its a process alright. I like the stoics too, lots of reading in Zen and I’ve always “gotten” it on an intellectual level. The challenge is doing as you say training the mind to watch reactions carefully. This is where I stumble. But we all stumble, no one’s perfect.

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