How Zen Is Too Zen?

Settling into my new neighborhood in Brooklyn after moving from busy Manhattan last week has been about as easy for me as letting someone massage my feet, or accepting a free upgrade on my flight, or taking those free samples they always have at Trader Joe’s. For one thing, my new ‘hood is full of all the things I love: cute coffee shops, vintage stores, wine bars, dive bars, used bookstores, small yoga studios, ethnic restaurants, mom and pop grocery stores, a diverse population, and friendly neighbors. Oh, and lots of trees! I’m just a few blocks from the park, the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, farmer’s markets, and a great museum. I’m even walking distance from Target; could life get any better? In short: my new neighborhood is fantastic and I’ve quickly shed my Manhattan armor for something a bit more zen. But is there such a thing as “too zen”? I learned the answer to that yesterday while checking out a yoga studio in my new neighborhood.OK, so I arrived for the 7:15 AM class — the first of the morning — at 7, on the dot, since I wasn’t sure how full the class would be and I wanted to make sure I got a good spot. It was a good thing, too, because the studio, which is actually a converted apartment on the first floor of a three-story brownstone, is small and it was packed by the time class started 15 minutes later. It was also flooded with sunlight, and at least half the class had to squint their way through the next hour. I was the second person to arrive, just behind another newbie. She and I were commenting how lovely the space was and were making small talk with the instructor when we suddenly spotted a bug scampering across the room.

“Is that a roach?” she asked, in a way that was really more of a statement since we could all very well tell it was indeed a roach.

And without missing a beat — almost like he was waiting for the roach to make his appearance — the instructor simply grabbed a business card from the holder by the door and started chasing after the roach, gingerly coaxing it onto the card and transporting it outside. The other girl and I exchanged bewildered looks at each other and she even mimed squashing the bug with a shoe. I nodded and shrugged my shoulders. What could we do?

A few minutes later, the class was full and we began with the traditional pre-practice chanting. For those uninitiated, you’re really supposed to close your eyes during the chanting and, like, clear your mind of the clutter or whatever. But I was too distracted for all that. The roach had made its way back inside and was crawling on the mat of my neighbor, making its way to her lap. I debated for about half a second whether I should let her continue clearing her mind, but I quickly decided if it were me, I’d want to know if I was about to open my eyes to a roach sitting on my crotch. So I lightly tapped her, but she ignored me. I tapped her again, this time with more urgency. She shot me an annoyed look and I gestured to the roach, now mere inches from her big toe. She gasped and then reached for a shoe. The instructor, whose head-clearing was interrupted by all the ruckus, saw what girl was about to do and said, “No, no, let me.” And then he grabbed his stupid business card again and starting chasing the damn roach out the door.

Not surprisingly, about 15 minutes later the roach was back. Again, there was an effort by someone to kill it, and again, the instructor insisted on carrying it outside. “It just keeps coming back, huh?” he said with a chuckle, balancing the roach on his card.

Well, yeah, you idiot! I thought. That’s what happens when you keep rolling out the welcome wagon.

Anyway, I spent the rest of the class with an eye on the door, prepared to grab one of my flip-flops and finally take care of business, but I didn’t see the roach again. I have to assume he eventually made his way back in after class and the same song-and-dance probably happened all day.

Call me unenlightened, but I believe there are some things that just deserve to die, and roaches are right up there with the tights-as-pants trend and those people who always ask if you have a “second for the environment.” Also: head lice.

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