Photo Credit: Joe Longo
I’m at the airport, drinking my tea from Starbucks, waiting to board my flight. I’m early, for once. I’ve already checked my email, added a new photo to Instagram, and updated my Facebook status. I glance up, look around me, and begin one of those frequent conversations that I have with myself, one that no one else can hear.
What is that woman wearing? Leggings are not pants! Is that mom with her two kids thinner than I am? She just had a baby and look how flat her stomach already is. I wish mine looked like that. Or that I had a baby to offer up as my excuse for not looking like that. OK THAT girl is definitely thinner than I am. She’s so lucky. Her friend isn’t, she is bigger. At least I am thinner than someone here. I hate LAX. At least in Newark I can win the thin game some of the time. I’m thinner in Newark.
And on, and on, and on, until I can’t take it anymore and go back to reading emails, my phone at once a safe haven in this judgment zone.
How much of my life is spent in judgment?
It’s an ugly side of me, one that I hate for others to see. And it happens far too often. It feels especially bad today, after what I experienced a mere 12 hours earlier.
Last night’s theme in yoga was Judgment. As in: for one hour, let’s suspend judgment. Of each other, of ourselves, of anything.
Our teacher normally gives us a mantra for when our hands come together in prayer. On this night she told us to choose our own, but to make it positive rather than “Don’t Judge” or “Don’t” anything.
I tested out “Be patient.” Then I tried “Be tolerant.” Then just “Accept”.
Nothing felt right until she asked us: What happens when you strip the judgment and everything else away? What is left?
I moved my lips as my hands came to prayer. Love. I flowed through my vinyasas as class continued, desperate to commit these 60 minutes (at least!) to love.
Those people came in really late. LOVE. I can’t do this pose at all. LOVE. Nancy’s leg lifts so gracefully, I wish mine did that. LOVE. Wow, that girl is beautiful and I want her hair and is that still judgment if it’s positive? LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.
This chatter raced through my head for most of the class. I wish I could say that after repeating love a few times, it was so ingrained that I didn’t need to say it anymore. But I needed the repetition. I needed this focus on only allowing in the love. And then, just as I began to get frustrated, I started to feel it: smiles came easier, laughing was automatic, singing was necessary. The entire room was buzzing with love. It was magical.
I remember that feeling now, while I’m at the airport, engaging in the “who’s thinner” game yet again, which I surely didn’t invent but have definitely perfected. I want a break from this endless cycle of judging.
I repeat my manta a few times in my head, eyes closed while sitting on that hard leather seat. It feels a little ridiculous, like I am meditating in the middle of the chaos in terminal 8, but I do it anyway.
Love. Love. Love.
I open my eyes again and almost immediately, a woman approaches and speaks to me. “Is this seat taken?” (It’s not, please sit). “Is this the flight to Albuquerque?” (Yes it is). A moment after another woman strolls by but stops to ask, “Is this gate 80?” (Yes). By the time the third person in five minutes asks me a question, I’m wondering if it’s more than a coincidence. When the fourth person taps me on the shoulder just a minute later to ask if our flight is delayed, I know it is not.
It turns out, that conversation I was having that I thought no one else could hear? They could. It radiated off me, like an unpleasant smell, and kept others at bay. When it lifted, when it was replaced with love, the world just opened up around me. And that magical feeling was back, just like that, just like last night, in the middle of LAX.
The Beatles definitely had it right. All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.