It seems like there is nothing but bad news everywhere right now and it can really start to affect your outlook on life. Between the tragic events in Japan, the state of the global economy and frustration with our political/economic situation, how does a Yogi/Yogini keep perspective and frankly how do we keep Hope alive?
Something very interesting happens when we begin to practice Yoga. The very essence of Yoga is to reconnect to the Divine in ourselves and others. The result is that like the Grinch our heart grows three sizes. We find that we FEEL others pain much more acutely. It goes past knowing or understanding, these take place in the head. But when we FEEL with others – that takes place in our Soul and our Heart. It is much deeper and more profound. As a result we may find that the pain of people a world away makes our chest ache.
Don’t forget that there is Divine in each of us and since Divine is universal – we are ALL connected at a level that can not be explained away. So it makes sense that we can physically hurt for people we don’t even know. But this burden can be very hard to bear. So how does a Yogi/Yogini protect their sanity and keep Hope alive?
The answer is in Loving/Kindness on the mat and off. Remember that when we practice Loving/Kindness meditation it is like ripples in a pond. It doesn’t matter what words you use – it is the power behind the thoughts that makes the difference. So when everything seems overwhelming take a few minutes to do the following:
1. Send YOURSELF love and kindness
2. Send your Family love and kindness
3. Send your Friends love and kindness
4. Send your ENEMIES love and kindness (VERY important)
5. Send ALL beings, born and to be born, love and kindness
The very action of concentrating on love and kindness will help you, the Yogi/Yogini, to feel more balanced and positive. And by the way, there is science now to back this up. Scientist have used functional MRI’s to map brain activity, and when the subject focused on positive thoughts the portion of the brain that drives positive emotions activated and stayed activated.
I have always said it is easy to be a Yogi/Yogini on the mat, in class or on retreat, the real test comes after. The real work of a Yogi/Yogini happens off the mat. This is where the rubber meets the road.
Send love and kindness to EVERYONE you meet. Yes even that person who cuts you off in Houston traffic. Yes even the person at Starbucks who is complaining. Yes even to your boss or co-worker who is on your last nerve. No exceptions – Everyone. This is tough. Remember I don’t ask you to do the easy thing – it is the hard stuff that transforms your life and the life of others.
When you respond to ugliness with love and kindness you take the wind out of the sails of the situation. I am not talking about being a push over – remember a Yogi/Yogini is strong in body/mind/soul. But you do not have to buy into the hype and perpetuate the negative. So how does that help someone a world away you ask. Well like the ripples in a pond you never know how far reaching your action is. Someone you smile at today may be on the phone with someone in Japan and that positivity will transmit over a phone line. It really does – Divinity doesn’t need a plane!
So off the mat put your loving/kindness meditation into action. Certainly if you have the means to help in a financial sense, do so. But also get in touch with the Divine inside of yourself and let it shine through. Look for ways to engage strangers in a positive way and then notice what happens. We never really know the affect that our actions really have on the world at large, but we do know that by interacting with those around us in a positive way it activates the positive brain in the other person (again functional MRI research). So imagine if you just smile at every person you encounter in a day how many lives you have touched.
No, this will not stop earthquakes or economic melt downs, but it will change someones life – I promise. You will feel that at least there is Hope for us all. And when you feel hopeful those you meet will sense it and that will change the world one person at a time.