Sunday I had woken up with the beginnings of a cold - sore throat, throbbing sinuses and a lot of fatigue. I went to bed early hoping that the following morning I would feel back to normal but alas, the sore throat and congestion was still there. I had planned on going to my yoga studio for a class but decided to stay home and yoga it up following a session specifically for having a cold that my friend had sent along to me.
My day had been a trying one. There are some days when you absolutely love New York City and feel lucky to live here. There are other days when you hate the city with your entire being. Today was one of those for me. It's been overcast and rainy so perhaps that has something to do with my mood. It could also have been how my day had started. While walking to my subway stop I caught a guy in a semi stopped at a light staring at me. I stared him down but he wouldn't look away and eventually I got so frustrated I stopped walking, threw my arms up at him and flipped him the bird. As I walked by he said something to me but I kept walking and made my way to work. At the end of the day on the way home I was walking through the subway station to my transfer and from behind me I heard a very quiet "Sexy..." I kept walking and I heard it again and I looked over to see a short man with an enormous grin who kept saying it over and over again. I was furious and kept walking but yelled at him, asking him why he thinks it's OK to harass a woman who is just walking home from work. He kept up with me and said "It's a free country! It's a free country!" I kept yelling at him because I wanted everyone to know what he was doing. He finally walked in a different direction and parted with a "You know, you're not very nice..." I kept walking, seething inside and felt like I had during my college days when frat boys would harass me and my girlfriends as we walked down the street (Anyone go to The Ohio State University and experience that while walking down High Street? That's when I learned how to yell back). I made it to my train and sat down, glad for some time to read my book before my stop but I couldn't concentrate on the words. I was so angry.
I have always wished that I could be the kind of person who can let these things go, someone who doesn't dwell and doesn't let things like this affect my mood, but even as I approach my mid-thirties it's still a challenge. On the train I kept going over and over what had just happened and thought about how I could have handled it differently. Could I have ignored the guy? Sure, I could have but in this case I felt like being silent and passive would have been construed as permission for him to continue his harassment. I wanted to let him know that what he was doing was not acceptable.
When I got home tonight I changed and rolled my mat out onto the floor of my little living room. I started with a deep forward bend, closed my eyes and started to breathe. I focused on my breathing while checking in with my body, feeling where my muscles were tense and then focused on making those muscles release. I went slowly through the different poses, all the while concentrating on my breathing. If my mind started to focus on the events that happened today I forced myself to focus on my breath and on how my body felt. At the end of it I felt calmer. I wasn't angry or hurt anymore. Clearly, I was meant to have tonight's session be private and something that I had to do completely on my own.
I feel like I've learned a little bit about how I can release those angry thoughts and hurt feelings. I've never thought to take a moment to just breathe before opening my mouth in those situations. I can definitely say that it is going to take a lot more practice.