I was in yoga the other day, which is where I’m supposedly at my best – my most grounded and centered and Zen-like. And in the midst of the class, in the midst of a pose even, the woman next to me stepped out of her pose, grabbed her mat, and shuffled a few more inches away from me.

I immediately noticed her movement and lost my Zen-ness. I lost my concentration. I lost my center. I began wondering what action of mine had caused her to move. Was I breathing too loud? Was I distracting? Was I annoying in some way? Why would she stop to move away from me? What had I done?

There’s a saying I share with clients. “Don’t take it personally, even if it has your name on it.” I often laugh as I share it with them, and they nearly always laugh when they hear it. It’s good advice, no? And yet it can be so hard to remember. I absolutely took it personally when this woman, whom I didn’t know, moved her mat further from mine. I took it personally and knew I had somehow caused her to do this…just as I often “know” I cause so many other things.

Why is it that, even though I know it’s not true, I sometimes think I’m at the center of the universe? Why do I somehow assume that things that most likely have nothing to do with me have something to do with me? Or everything to do with me?

It’s an old habit dying hard, and one that I’m eager to let go of. When I was young it made sense to believe that everything revolved around me, because then I could figure out how to make things go right. If I had enough power to cause things, then I had enough power to fix things. If I had enough power to affect things, then I had enough power to control things. I could be safe.

I know this isn’t true. I know it wasn’t true. I know I don’t have this power now, nor did I have it then. I know that the world doesn’t revolve around me and that I can’t control everything around me. I even know that I don’t have to. But it is an old habit – and old belief – that can, at times, rattle around in my head.

I need to remember to not take it all personally. To take none of it personally, in fact. Even, perhaps especially, when the woman next to me in yoga steps out of her pose and pulls her mat away from me. I need to stay in my own pose, on my own mat, minding my own business, and getting the most I can from the moment I’m in.

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