I was chatting with a fellow meditator once, about a year or so after we both started meditating regularly. "Why is it that since I've been meditating I'm finding myself more annoyed by people? Shouldn't meditating make me more tolerant and more patient?" She asks. I too was finding it challenging to deal with difficult people. That was a long time ago but I was reminded of this conversation today.
I spend the last 3 days attending Shiva Das' morning yoga retreat. I spent the mornings in the most wonderful, supportive, nurturing environment and the afternoons enjoying the sunshine, reading, spending time with my children. Today, I returned, reluctantly, to my normal routine of work and chores and well, stress. I found myself thinking about that conversation from long ago. "Why am I feeling annoyed by people and their drama?" "I'm a yogini damn it! shouldn't I not be affected by the negativity?"
All these years later I have come to the realization that it's not about not being affected by the negativity and dramas of daily life but that when I am affected, I have the "tools" to handle it. The first step is to acknowledge the fact that we have a choice. Do we want to engage in the negativity or do we want to stay centered and calm. Centered and calm, of course, how we do that is the same way we center and calm ourselves at the beginning of our yoga practice. We connect with our breath.
Perhaps the reason we feel like we're more annoyed by difficult people is because we have experienced what it feels like to transcend that negativity. Sort of like not realizing how dark it is in the room until you turn on the light. Does that make sense? Once we experience that state of inner-peace even for a moment we wonder why anyone would choose to be in any other state. (Be careful here not to judge or feel superior to the other person. Don't let the ego take over!)
No matter what is going around us we can maintain our sense of peace when we remember our true nature is Divine. ( OH NO! I almost started giving you yoga babble, sorry about that). Here's some practical advise: Listen to the sound of your breath, hear SO on the inhale, HAM on the exhale. This simply technique works wonders! Imagine for a moment that you are engaged in a heated discussion with someone, your spouse, your boss, co-workers, anyone. Using the SO HAM mantra for even just a few minutes will bring you to a state of peace so that you can respond to the other person rather than reacting from emotions. The emotions are not accurate, ever. They are colored by past impressions. The only way to see the situation accurately is by looking at it from a calm and centered place, your heart. SO HAM, SO HAM, --- it's the sound the breath naturally makes, all you have to do is listen. Simple! Inner Peace is just a few breaths away!
Not everyone has found their way to yoga yet so until that "100th monkey" finds his way to yoga I guess we'll need to find a way to handle the negativity that will inevitably find it's way into our lives. SO HAM, SO HAM, SO HAM........