It was meant to be an innocent date. In fact, I was three days into my 42-day online meditation and inner-peace development program. Upon completing each session I have to reflect upon my experience, as well as, refrain from the following actions, known as “precepts” in Buddhism:
- Killing or causing harm
- Using hurtful language or lying
- Sexual misconduct
- Taking intoxicants
So you can imagine that the only anticipation of hot on this day was the temperature, which had reached a high of 108 degrees. I could’ve really gone for a glass of beer, but I had to settle for some Pinkberry. He seemed apprehensive about the unnatural, sweetened nature of frozen yogurt, but he bit the bullet and went for a small scoop of hazelnut sprinkled with colorful toppings. He said he really just enjoyed the toppings anyway.
Now, it is a bit embarrassing to admit this publicly, but my last real date was probably about a year ago. I was quite excited, but not holding my breath, as I was about to meet a Bikram yoga teacher. I agreed to meet this New Yorker who had just arrived to LA for a summer internship. I agreed to let go of my judgment and disassociate for a moment the person I was about to meet with his yoga. I love the dry heat and I think I assumed correctly that he wouldn’t have minded getting sweaty so I suggested that we walk around the neighborhood.
I have avidly and openly been opposed to Bikram yoga — especially since I injured myself two years ago and as news broke about the founder’s unethical approach to the practice of yoga. When I told my date this, his first response was “oh, you were trying to be a rock star on the mat?” I will not deny that my already flexible body was hyper flexible due to that heat. As I mentioned, I don’t mind heat, so of course I felt like a “rockstar.” The euphoria I felt post-practice due to the release of so much sweat and production of high levels of endorphin, is what ultimately kept me going back to Bikram classes. I was chasing that high until the labrum tear in my shoulder worsened.I did feel unstoppable in that room and knew that I could push myself a little bit more on the mat. Even though the 90 minutes were intolerable for me, I knew that I was going to feel ecstatic after my shower. Mind you, this was all before teaching yoga and having knowledge about who Bikram Choudhury was. I was getting back into the groove after some absence from the practice of yoga altogether and I wanted to try something new. June 2014 was the month I first and last stepped into a Bikram studio. After my labrum tear and severe back pain I promised myself I would never return.
To be quite honest, a huge part of me was unable to understand why anyone would choose to practice this kind of yoga. So, of course, my burning question did not take too long to make its exit out of my mouth.
“How come you chose Bikram?”
He immediately responded to the benefits of the heat, to which I agree to a certain degree (no pun intended). He followed by telling me he has had other trainings in Sivananda. This date was already getting better. He then made a statement about how I should really separate the man from the practice, which is what I was already doing. But he was suggesting that I leave Bikram out of the equation. But, how could I? One of the reasons I had gone on this date was to really practice non-judgment. The second was, well, I hadn’t been on a proper date in a while. We soon let go of the topic of yoga.
As we were walking, the full moon was rising and the heat was becoming a bit more tolerable. I noticed someone look at me as we passed each other. Thirty seconds later, this gentleman walked back, stopped, greeted politely and asked, “Hi, are you Armen?” I immediately blushed and got anxious. Anxious, because I could not remember his face and I almost always know the people I’ve met before. He proceeded to tell me that he read my recent article on latent homophobia and the challenges of being a gay Armenian man. He thanked me, and as I got even redder in the face, my date’s curiosity was apparent.
Naturally, he asked, “What the hell was that all about?”
I told him I would share the article I wrote two days earlier. He wanted to know more about it, immediately. After I gave him a synopsis, he told me that his summer internship was at Out Magazine. He enjoyed the verbal story so much, he decided to take a read and submit this to his editor. The next day, his editor had made sure that I was interviewed and the piece was submitted.
What this serendipitous experience showed me is that as much as we like to control situations around us, sometimes we really just have to let go of it all. Letting go, especially of judgment, fear and worry, which are our biggest barriers for growth, might serve us in ways that we cannot even imagine. Even though our “hot” date soon became a professional encounter, I’m excited that Dan appeared in my life. I made not only a new friend with such great insight and talent for writing, but he’s also agreed to try different types of yoga. He is being flexible, receptive and open. I, on the other hand, am still having a hard time agreeing to attend one of his classes. But, we’ll leave that to develop organically.
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Credits: Featured Image by Mike Manzano