I was attending my usual Satsang in San Francisco Sunday night, it makes me feel grounded with a strong sense of community. The talk given that night was mostly about the 4 types of Yoga, Raja and Jnana, Karma and Bhakti. As the talk continued one thing really remained in my brain. “Don’t let yourself have a ‘yoga life’ and a ‘regular life’. Yoga should be practiced at all times” That phrase really got to me. A lot of the time I think I really have it figured out, when really I have plenty of chances to practice! Yes I can sit through traffic without it affecting my mood one bit, but when Im at work slaving away I begin to feel very unsteady. Yoga is a practice of balance so why do we find it so difficult to stay present in every aspect of our lives?
I was reading a story about relationships where a woman was asking a spiritual teacher for advise on her relationship with her husband. She wanted her husband to be interested and talk about spiritual things, but he wouldn’t. He was very supportive of her but she wanted him to be more engaged. The teacher told her that the issue was not her husband, it was the story she was telling herself about what her husband should do and say. Instead of her being ok with her husband not wanting to engage in spiritual things and be himself she continued repeating her complaints to herself in her head, ultimately driving herself crazy. Have you ever done this? I know I have! And while its easier to notice that habit more every day it doesn’t stop the brain from wanting to go wild! Its that little wicked voice of the Ego telling you “he should do this” or “why isn’t he doing that?”. Its a wild thing, this ego of ours!
So what to do?!
Sit still for a moment, if you can. Breathe. This is tough stuff! To try and slow down the mind and be aware is really difficult. Especially when you’re already in a bad mood, or angry and stressed. But try it, see what happens. Try and figure out what story you’re telling yourself about the situation. Maybe it really is the people or person you’re struggling with, or maybe its not. Just notice.
One thing I find is how deeply this applies to personal and close relationships. Just stop and ask yourself what it is that you’re mad about. For me, I notice that my ego loves to get greedy! “He did this yesterday, why didn’t he do it today?” I have to constantly try and shut that little voice up and try to remain calm, not let it take me away into frustration. Its not always about the other person, actually 99% of the time it’s not about the other person! Now lets be clear here, that doesn’t mean that they might not be doing anything wrong and we should condone bad or violent behavior. There are many instances where other people might very well be doing wrong or hurtful things. Managers or bosses can be bad, governments can be damaging and controlling, mothers can be overbearing, people can be very violent. But the difference is how you respond to that behavior. You can let them upset you and hold you down, or you can keep calm stay balanced and act out of a place of awareness and wisdom.
Just like on the yoga mat, you can choose to blame your hamstrings for being tight and push yourself to the point of pain, or you can surrender to where you are and have compassion for yourself. Your hamstrings are tight, ok lets deal with that. Lets not tell a story about how if you hadn’t married your ex you would have taken yoga class everyday and your hamstrings wouldn’t be this way! No, lets just breathe. In this moment you are perfectly fine.
Same thing with daily challenges. So your boss doesn’t like to follow their own rules, ok lets deal with it. What can you do? Think calmly, think wisely and take proper action. So your boyfriend doesn’t like to turn off his cell phone when you’re trying to have a nice dinner, ok lets deal with it. Stay grounded, don’t allow yourself to get frustrated. Explain why it bothers you and see what happens.
Again people, this is really challenging stuff! We all struggle with our minds. But the great thing about yoga or any mindfulness practice is that its not life or death! If you loose your temper or lost your way, its fine, just bring yourself back to the practice of stillness! This is a life long thing. And you are not perfect, neither am I, and neither is the Queen of England. Everything will be ok. It all really boils down to loving yourself, so much so that you don’t want to hurt others because you know it will hurt you. The relationship you have with yourself is the most important one you will ever have! Once we figure this out, we will begin to notice that we treat others better because we treat ourselves better. We don’t get as angry because we love ourselves to the fullest. Anger cannot survive where there is love. We don’t get frustrated or depressed during or after a romantic relationship because we know we are perfectly ok on our own. We are our own best friend, we would go to the ends of the earth to make ourselves happy, and no one can do or be that for us. We are whole.
Today I am practicing patience. With others and in different situations too, but mostly with myself. I am important enough that I don’t want my ego telling me I should be angry. I am practicing peace and I am inviting peace into my life in every moment of the day. Anger has no place here, Im kicking it out!
So what type of relationship are you having with yourself today?
To learn more about mindfulness practice I highly recommend visiting eckharttolle.com and reading his book The Power of Now.