It’s All In Your Head

After a term of hopeless Cindies circuits and hapless German translations, RUSSNA JASWAL decided it was time to take matters into her own hands, and think positive.

argos bleak Cindies porridge positive thinking sheila thespian yoga

Being an MML student, my term is a standard headache-inducing rota of essay crises, shit translations, Cindies laps and bleak Monday and Thursday morning grammar lessons. To combat this, I decided to make the coming weeks slightly less predictable by getting involved in something. I am no musician, thespian or athlete. This left but one option:  yoga.

Googling ‘Cambridge free yoga’, I came across something called Raja Yoga at Inner Space (the white shop near the fudge kitchen). An inquisitive email received a response from a very pleasant lady called Sheila. She told me that there are no Raja Yoga classes at the moment, and in any case it is not physical yoga, but yoga of the mind. She recommended that I join a positive thinking class. Just as I was about to disregard the email, it struck me that maybe this is what I need. A chance for me to buck up my ideas and drain, once and for all, the cynicism that has coursed through my body since my birth.  Before I considered what I could be getting myself in for, and that this meant sacrificing Cindies for a month, I had signed up for positive thinking classes on Wednesday nights.

Wednesday evening saw me sitting hesitantly on Kings Parade, staring at my one stop shop for happiness, chewing my nails and deciding whether this new Open Minded Me was a sensible incarnation. Telling myself to man up, I rang the doorbell and was greeted by a softly spoken Caucasian lady wearing a white kurta pyjama and a navy fleece. She led me to a porridge-hued classroom, decked out with 3 rows of chairs, a potted palm tree, an Argos CD player and a flip pad with a spider diagram scrawled on it in green Sharpie. Words like ‘trust’, ‘intellect’ and ‘peace’ jumped out at me and I had just enough time to send a text (“MATE, what have I done? Everyone is wearing white”) and pick a seat on the middle row before the other 6 pupils filed in.

Sheila sat facing the class, smiling. She announced that there was a new arrival, Russna, at which the friendly bunch all turned and threw encouraging nods and smiles in my direction. Sheila suggested that we all go round and introduce ourselves for Russna’s benefit. This chore is a definite contender for my least favourite thing to do in the world. After everyone played their part in the game, I responded in my irritatingly loud voice, “Err…cool. I’m Russna. So…yeah.”

An awkward silence followed until Sheila smiled again and started the lesson. Perhaps it was the residual mist of the RAG Blind Date hangover to blame, but I found the lesson as hard to follow as my Italian Modernism lectures last Michaelmas. I did manage to clock the five vices, though: greed, egoism, lust, attachment and anger. Sadly, all words which form a definite foundation to my daily life. These need to be controlled. Sheila executed a perfect example of anger control when three teenage boys came into Inner Space and started behaving in an unacceptable manner. She refused to get angry with them, which was good I suppose, but the story ultimately ended with the boys letting of smoke bombs, so I found myself slightly baffled as to how that was an endorsement.

The next part was the antidote to the vices. This was the juicy bit, the crux that I had been waiting for. Sheila revealed two columns, headed with Body (mortal) and Soul (immortal). John, a fluffy haired post-grad, piped up and asked something about the significance of this idea in relation to population growth. Someone had clearly been to one too many advanced retreats. Sheila looked puzzled and said that unfortunately that particular aspect is not covered in this course. Nicely avoided, Sheila.

John looked smug whilst Sheila said something about having to find out “who you really are”. It was all starting to sound a bit nebulous to me and my mind wandered to the screechy recital of “Sex on fire”, coming from a group of post- Mahalers on Kings Parade. I jolted back to attention, however, when I heard Sheila casually mention that the founder of Inner Space was 94, and despite several near death experiences, has not had a negative thought since 1965. My face contorted with shock and my eyebrows disappeared somewhere into my beehive, as I made the decision that this place was probably not for me.

Sheila closed by telling us that until next Wednesday, we must watch people play out their scenes in life and we must find our own role. The thing is, I think my role is that of a resentful and maybe vaguely hostile person. But I think I can accept that. In any case, I have to give myself credit for coming with an open (ajar, perhaps) mind and having a dabble.

Like most things, I tried but I failed. Plus I have a swap next week.