As an update to my apartment search, sixth time was the charm and I found a delightful, clean, updated apartment with quiet neighbors, in my desired neighborhood. The huge kitchen and back porch were what sold me, and I’m also a fan of the lack of carpet and the real tile in the bathroom. I couldn’t just leave you guys hanging, wondering if I ended up in a basement apartment with 20-year-old carpeting and a registered sex-offender for a neighbor, since that’s the direction my search seemed to be going.

But in other news, one of the yoga studios where I teach and attend classes has themes for each month. April’s is compassion, and in a recent class, the teacher asked us to manifest that by, at the start of the class, sending compassion to someone in our lives or in our sphere of awareness who needed and deserved it. Easy. I mean, it actually wasn’t easy to think of just one person because of my line of work, so I sent compassion to a select twenty. I’m pretty good at compassion.

Later on in class, the teacher asked us to think of one thing we’re not crazy about in ourselves. Easy. I’m not crazy about how my pants got tighter because I ate more Cadbury mini eggs than necessary and how my mind went to a place of “OMG, world is ending, I cannot abide this muffin top, even though I am a giving person with a big heart who does good work, all that matters is my expanding butt.” Also, I’m not a huge fan of when I get stressed out and have the inclination to curl up into fetal pose in the middle of the intake office at work. But I’m actually doing better with that. Last Saturday, I got kinda stressed, then tripped over the cord of the credit card machine, flinging it across the room, and it was enough to stun me out of my state and say, “This is what happens when things don’t go right: I throw things!” And for the rest of the day, my co-workers joked, “It’s OK; just don’t throw a credit card machine at me!” And we laughed and none of us took ourselves too seriously, because even if it’s life-saving work, it’s just work. But still, the muffin top. I had to deal with that. And I sent myself compassion and in the following days, I noticed that there was less of muffin top than I thought. And I can still wear my pants. And when I cut back on the Cadbury habit and paid more attention to what I was eating in general, I noticed I had more energy. +1 to compassion. Well played.

And then at the end of class, the teacher, who I adore and admire, asked us to think of a person or people who deserve no compassion. Terrible people. The worst people. People with whom we don’t really even want to coexist. And then she asked us to send them compassion. I thought of the time after Dr. Tiller was murdered that my friend sighed and said, “I know I’m eventually going to have to forgive his killer,” and I replied, “Why?” I’m actually really good at forgiveness. If the person has apologized or even if enough time has passed, I can set aside whatever happened and be best of friends again. But my hang up is when there’s no apology. Which I know isn’t quite the idea of forgiveness or compassion–those things are designed to be unconditional.

I could have declined to identify this person or people I had such disdain for, and I could have continued to send compassion to friends, family, clients, and my ass. No one would have known. But I challenged myself, and I let Dr. Tiler’s murderer into my consciousness. I allowed myself to think of those awful people who protest my clinic, who don’t kill doctors themselves, but who quietly encourage those who do. I thought of the ones who harass our clients and make such wonderful, strong women doubt their goodness. And against everything in my heart, against every fiber of my being, I sent compassion to those assholes. I didn’t even know what thoughts, exactly, to send. Nothing concrete would do, so I figured it would have to be a general sentiment of non-hatred. That was the most I could muster. And maybe the idea of love, even though I wasn’t in a place where I could extend the real thing. I didn’t send them any understanding, nor did I try to justify their actions, because I can’t. But I focused on non-hatred. It’s what people have been telling me to do ever since I first saw the protesters and they started to make my blood boil. I knew they held a certain power over me. And I cried. It was the most emotionally challenging yoga class I’ve ever been a part of.

I can’t say that I peeked out the clinic window the next day and felt nothing when I saw the protesters. I can’t even say I feel a difference in myself like the amazing disappearing muffin top. But I can say that a tiny part of me feels a tiny bit lighter for knowing what I’m capable of when it comes down to the most difficult thing…more difficult than giving up chocolate eggs, or holding a balance pose in yoga, and more difficult than the kind of compassion that I’m comfortable with.

Namaste, motherfuckers.