A Calm Indifference:
An exercise in non-judgment and compassion
Holy Cow… It’s Holy Cubs Madness! I have third row seats behind the dugout to watch the Chicago Cubs play the St. Louis Cardinals. I bid in a live auction at my kids’ school bene t, and I won! I’ve never won an auction before, and boy, was it a thrill. But as I woke the next morning, reality seeped in.
Here’s how it went down: e auctioneer started hawking Cubs tickets, creating a buzz of excitement for these incredibly expensive seats. I felt my dear father’s spirit descending into my body, from my head down to my toes. I had a feeling of certainty in my actions as I raised my paddle, but I was outbid.
Then a second pair of tickets came up, and if I raised my paddle again, the tickets would be mine! And so it was!
My hair, which I so carefully styled for this event, stood on end for the rest of the evening. I had a buzz that made me feel alive and vital. at is, until I realized I have a family of four and only two tickets. And that the ticket price for more tickets was way out of my ballgame.
When the party ended, buyer’s remorse set in. What was I thinking? e bidding was so pleasurable, but the high was not sustainable. e face value of the tickets was enough for three airline tickets to California!
I felt guilt about confusing the memory of my father—whom I miss so much—with a Cubs game. I felt guilt about the money and for having to choose a child to go to the game.
I felt shame for the way I acted, bouncing around the party like a crazy Cubs fan with her hair on re. I couldn’t sleep because this issue stayed at the forefront of my mind. I thought, “Yoga toolbox, help me out! What am I to do?”
Guilt opposes spiritual growth. at’s for certain. e Yoga Sutras promote seeking a “calm indifference” toward ordinary highs and lows. at’s right, getting caught neither in the rushes of the highs nor the bottomless pits of the lows. e back-and-forth play of pleasure and pain, desire and aversion, is addressed through practice. How do I calm the mind? Oh yes, I realized, I can control the fluctuations of my mind through the cultivation of meditation practice.
Yoga Sutra 1:2, Yogas chitta vritti nirodha, tells us, “Yoga exists when we begin
to still the mind.” The practice of yoga is a full-spectrum practice encompassing our relationship to our thought patterns, our body awareness and breath regulation and control. Yoga doesn’t tell us not to feel. We are to feel everything, the full spectrum of our lives. Then we learn to let these feelings and thoughts drift away through the asana and meditation practices. Life remains constant with its ups and downs, but through these practices—showing up on the mat or the meditation cushion—we become stronger.
Why not take each incident in our life and use it for growth? is unrest with the Cubs tickets didn’t feel good to me. I had to shake myself up and comprehend the situation however uncomfortable, and then settle into the “what is.”
Pema Chodron talks about self-compassion and loving-kindness. I separated myself from the feelings of guilt and shame, and slowly began to understand where they came from. It made me want to hug myself, make a clear decision and be done with it. rough this process, I decided to sell these killer tickets, cover my costs and move on.
Remember the happiness so many of us
felt winning the World Series last fall? My childhood Cubs were of the 70’s-style, Fergie Jenkins, Ron Santos, Randy Huntley variety. Every kid like me knew their names.
I went to the games with my dad. He had his favorite seats way up high near third base. He was the guy that bought a program, pulled out his pencil and put on his headset tuned to AM radio to hear the counts. Loving thoughts of my Dad, and his influence in my life played over in my head as I jumped up and down and raised the paddle. Of course it would be great to attend this game, but you know what? I can get some inexpensive tickets where my Dad used to sit, and bring the family.
I can add this experience to the list of small things that will make me stronger when the big things in life strike. e peace of mind I’ve attained through right action wins!
Debi Buzil is the leader of Chicago-based Kirtan group Devi 2000. She is a longtime teacher and student, and a mother of two.
For more Sutra in the City Articles by Debi Buzil: