It was late 2008 and I moved to New York City to share an upper west side studio with a girlfriend. She wasn’t into yoga nor did she effort to understand or encourage it. But we knew one another for two decades having grown up together, so there were other motivating circumstances to our relationship.
I was looking for work at the time. I’d spend the day sending applications online or going on interviews, but when I wasn’t, Yogaworks UWS was only several blocks south on Broadway from 73rd street and so I’d attend classes there. There was a specific instance where I happened to attend three classes during one slow day: one morning and two afternoon/evening back-to-back. I came back up to the four-floor walkup studio I lived at and chilled on the couch, never better.
My girlfriend came through the door shortly after. Her day working on Long Island ended. She had the reverse commute, but was still dealing with the commuting mobs of the New York Metropolitan area. She was testier than usual that evening but I was chiller than usual, so it balanced out.
But my chill seemed to bother her. “What did you do all day?!” she snapped at my calm demeanor. I mentioned my job search. “What’s the matter with you? Are you high?” I said no and shared a detailed itinerary of my day. “THREE YOGA CLASSES?!” she exclaimed. “Who does that?!” she continued. I was too chill to react. She kept on and on, denouncing and disbelieving that I wasn’t stoned, dismissing my claims that I was just chill from yoga. After a few more loud remarks from her I’d shrug and say nothing. Still giving me some stink eye thinking I smoked a bowl before she came home, she took out our weed stash and packed a full bowl. When it was offered to me, I refused it that night. I just didn’t need it.
There have been four things that allow me to take a backseat to me (or my mind, I should say): 1) Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training, 2) Yoga, 3) Meditation, and 4) Weed, a.k.a. pot, a.k.a. marijuana. Either one – or in combination – will do me just fine. That day, yoga set the mood to last me through the evening and the following day.
That next day, I went to Yogaworks again to attend a class. An college friend worked there teaching Pilates. I had some time before class so I decided to say hi and share with her my story from yesterday. After sharing it in full detail, she just said “…but really Yochai? Three classes in a day? You really want that zen hard.”
And so Zen Hard was born.
So Zen Hard to you all! Find that which brings a state of calm in the midst of a shit-storm; that which allows to be present and alert in the moment but not necessarily reactive. It’s hard to find that zen. It requires searching and awaits those earnest enough to find it, and only after it’s no longer sought after it finally finds a resting place besides each an every one of us reminding us that the zen we sought was there all along, beside us. We were just looking everywhere but the immediacy around us.
Zen Hard and thanks for reading.