I spent a week in Chicago, admittedly one of the best cities in the US (behind SF of course). What made this trip so great, outside of the decent food, friendly people, and diverse cultures was the introspective opportunity I gained while staying at a historic hotel, The Palmer House, for the whole week.

Arriving on Monday, I was assigned a 17th floor room – yay, nearly to the top! And as old as the hotel was (rebuilt after the Chicago fire of 1871), not a bad elevator ride up.

Rebuilt as a 20 story hotel, it feigns in the height of the skyscrapers like the Trump Tower.

Nearing the middle of the week, the hotel became a lot more busy, and wait times for the elevators proved to be testing my patience. I came up with the “elevated” idea that I would just take the stairs. Here’s a recap:

1st Floor: I’m ready!

5th Floor: Stabilize my knees, pray my joints don’t give out…

10th Floor: Wow! My heart is really beating… Everywhere!

17th Floor: I sit on my bed and my back seizes up. Who would have thought that walking up stairs took core?

So the narrative above doesn’t include the whole story. What I found the entire way (in my head):

3rd Floor: “I’ve got this, I’m a yogi, athlete, and everyone else is easily walking up the stairs.”

7th Floor: “Let’s pick up the pace, I can’t be slower than these people 10+ years my senior.”

15th Floor: “How many more flights? I should be able to do this. Suck it up, Bryant!”

And this is where my attachment to the idea or expectation that I should be able to do something, clouds my thoughts. Instead of being present – instead of mindfully accepting my current situation, I pushed myself harder based off my personal judgement, of myself! Sound familiar?

Practicing non-attachment (vairagya) could have prevented any physical harm that might have come to my body if there had been more floors. Consider, if my body had given out earlier on? Would hurting my ego have been worse than a physical wound that could potentially take a lifetime to heal?

And so we continue on as students, reflecting on these moments that test our ego, mind, and practice. 

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