I live in Canada which means my basic medical coverage is covered through my taxes (and the taxes my neighbours kindly pay). Every five years or so, I get an application to renew my Medicare coverage which expired in May of this year. There’s been some kind of administrative foul-up in the Medicare office which resulted in a lot of people’s renewal cards not being processed in time. Nobody panicked – doctor’s offices and hospital took the expired cards, knowing that at some point in time things would get caught up. Apparently, there are still a few bugs in the system – my medical coverage was cancelled.
I discovered this yesterday when I checked the morning mail, to find a bill from the hospital for the colonoscopy/gastroscope I had done at the end of August. For the sole purpose of making my American readers cringe, the bill was a grand total of $260 – a sum which I know won’t cover your parking fees in an American hospital. Obviously, the bill was issued because Medicare had politely declined to cover it for me.
Five years ago, this would have been cause for a complete and total freak out first-class. I would have sworn. I would have ranted. I would have flipped my gourd. My blood pressure would have spiked and I would have been mentally rehearsing all the arguments I was going to have with all the faceless bureaucrats I had yet to meet. That was me pre-yoga or as I like to dub her Kate 1.0. Ego would have run wild with this one … oh the “I, I, I” stories that could have been spun from this snafu.
Kate 2.0 is a different creature. She avoids having fights with people she hasn’t met, involving issues that haven’t arisen yet, in a future that exists solely in the fertile fields of my imagination. Kate 2.0 has abandoned paranoia and conspiracy because they turned out to be piss-poor travelling companions. What I did do upon the receipt of this bill was put myself into my car, drive downtown to the government services office and spoke to an incredibly helpful and courteous civil servant who directed me on the proper course of action in these circumstances. Within 20 minutes, my renewal application notice had been faxed to the Medicare office and I had a receipt showing I had made my renewal application. Even with stopping for a bit of lunch and into the used bookstore for a brief browse (purchase is presumed), I was back home within 90 minutes. Mission accomplished and without all the drama.
I’ll be honest. I’m glad to have walked away from the drama. First off, it was exhausting – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritual draining. In retrospect, approximately 98.7% of the stuff I got ramped up on wasn’t worth it in the first place. Most of my self-generated drama was just crap I’d made up. I imagined that the situation would go THIS way and then I started making arguments to defend my position… but if it went THAT way, then I needed a whole new set of arguments to counter… My Lord, that sounds suspiciously like work.
And nothing is exactly what it was because all these battles were being fought in the future that lived solely in my imagination. These were my fears projected into the future. Totally, absolutely 100% fiction. Sounds pretty silly when I put it that way, doesn’t it? So why did I expend all that energy on my imaginary future? The simple answer is “Ego”. My ego would get bored and would spin off some far-fetched wild stories in an attempt to entertain itself. It was the producer, director and writer – not to mention STAR – of its own little soap opera. And that’s all it ever was – the self-generated soap opera of my ego.
Kate – meet Asmita, your ego. Asmita, meet Kate… And as we know from our studies already, Asmita (ego) is one of the five kleshas that cause our suffering when they hijack our minds. Why was I suffering in the past with all my tension, stress and trauma? Because my ego was spinning this increasingly wild soap opera that I was caught up in. How does one stop suffering? Weaken the kleshas. In this case, it’s dialling down the hold the ego has on my mental processes.
And how is this done? Practice, practice, practice. Patanjali tells me that the sustained practice of yoga will increase my contemplation and decrease the effects of kleshas on my mind, and if it isn’t obvious by now, I’m sorely in need of both.
So why do I practice yoga? I practice because sometimes things just get screwed up and processes don’t always go the way they should. Sometimes you open the mail and there’s a bill for $260 that you actually don’t owe. Yoga doesn’t mean less crap lands in your life. It just makes you better at dealing with it constructively on the days when it does.
Thanks for reading and Namaste,