Thinking Yogi

The intersection of two loves: yoga and writing.

Doing my duty, civically speaking

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After years of dreading that annual piece of paper that arrives via US mail, alternately going through the whole standby call-in Russian roulette routine, and sitting in various airless rooms in governmental buildings all day in weird silence with a book and a bunch of strangers, I completed my civic duty this week and actually quite enjoyed it.

As I braced myself for the usual unpleasant jury duty experience, I went through the many reasons why I should be excused from doing my civic service: I have young children, I run a business, I only have part-time childcare, and so on. But then I got to the courthouse and saw the hundreds of other people who had somehow managed to show up that day because a piece of paper told them to do so. I listened as the head honcho of the jury room gave us instructions about how the day would go and how the process worked. Then they rolled tape and some really cheesy God-Bless-America-type music came on and Lester Holt introduced himself and his 80s mustache, and proceeded to explain in clear and concise terms the judicial process and the experience of being a juror. I soaked it all up and felt a strange pride at this incredible system that asks 12 ordinary citizens to apply the laws of our country to the facts of a particular case in order to make a decision, THE decision, about the guilt or innocence of the defendant.

Prior to all of the above, I had considered pleading to be dismissed due to childcare issues or even thinking of ways to make myself appear to be an unappealing juror in the interview process, but I'm glad I didn't. We spent a lot of time sitting and waiting in the juror room, during which time I pored over BKS Iyengar's fabulous book, Light on Life. Whenever I felt the urge to be impatient, to feel claustrophobic about this tiny room we twelve shared for hours on end, I had Mr. Iyengar to talk me down, with all his amazing insights and experience. It's not the waiting that's the problem, it's my reaction to the waiting, I told myself. As Iyengar said in his book, in Latin intelligence means 'to choose between.' So if I were to face this trial of patience with intelligence, I would have to choose between being miserable and fully immersing myself in the situation to extract some enjoyment from it. My book at my side, my yoga practice at my back, I chose to immerse and enjoy, and to leave all the other mental garbage behind. As a result, those three days will, as the judge of our case suggested, be remembered as a 'high point' instead of something I merely tolerated.

Kerry is the Founder & Director of Bloom Yoga Studio, voted Best Yoga Studio in the Chicago Reader, Chicago Magazine, and Citysearch. As a practicing yogi, writer, and mother of three, Kerry is all about making the principles and philosophies of yoga real and accessible for day-to-day living. You can find Kerry on Google+.