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Making an Entrance

You’ve been there: sitting on your mat, listening to the teacher’s dharma talk. Or maybe class has started and you’re luxuriating in a slo-mo adho mukha svanasana (downward dog, I know you knew that), stretching your Achilles tendons, teasing out some space between your vertebrae as you shuffle off the monkey mind (chitta vritti for you Sanskrit speakers) you walked in with. And then, thwack! a mat hits the floor next to you, a cloud of stale perfume descends, and footsteps thud off toward the blankets and blocks as a forearm of jewelry jangles en route.

It’s fascinating how important it is for some of us to be seen. If getting attention is paramount, stomping into a quiet room and throwing stuff around is an excellent solution. Noisy Latecomers used to drive me crazy. Now I just wonder what they’re thinking and why they’ve chosen to be an irritant—on some level, even if they’re new to yoga, the NL intends to be disruptive. Maybe they’ve got a new pair of leggings they want noticed, or a new tatt to show off. Or maybe their need to stand out, regardless of the circumstances, goes a long way back.

For their captive audience—the rest of us who’ve carved out the time and forked over the dollars to enter a quiet and stress-free zone—the NLs offer a potential upside. They give us an opportunity to not react to the distraction, to accept the sounds and unsettled energy and let them disperse before they can impact our spirit. It’s like meditating on trash day. You can’t stop the truck from its screeching and grinding, and you don’t want to get too involved in the imagery of what’s getting ground, but if you can accept the sounds without attaching meaning or emotion to them, they become immaterial, just unremarkable sonic wallpaper.

And, could be, if the NL doesn’t receive any feedback from his or her grand entry, it might not feel all that grand in the end—which may be all the encouragement they need to save their performance art for another arena in the future.

--Margot Dougherty

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