While teaching a class last week-end one of the students expressed that she felt what we were doing seemed very superficial. I considered what she said and suggested that the external process of learning to observe can be internalized so that we can begin to observe ourselves. The observation process is so very important. The problem comes when the observations become judgments and criticism. The learning comes when the observation process is internalized so that we can begin to observe our own patterns and beliefs. The progress is made when we can observe our internal process and make changes where changes are needed. The hard part is staying neutral and non-judgmental.
This exchange with the student was more a lesson for me than her. She already knows that what's happening externally is very superficial. I was the one who needed the reminder. "It's not about the external posture; yoga is about how you FEEL in the posture." How often have I said this in class? Still I forget that the same is true off the mat.
I am starting to see that the external circumstances that have been troubling me are superficial. The emotional clouds are starting to lift and I can see that the acts of others speak more to their character and have nothing at all to do with me. Shifting the focus from observing the "actions" of others to observing how I react to a perceived in-justice against me is the yoga practice.
As I observe my internal pattern I see that my natural tendency is to revisit all the times in the past where people have hurt me. I reinforce this false belief that I can’t trust people; People suck! Is that belief true? Is that belief helpful? Is there any value in that belief? NO.
The intention seed that I planted during the last new moon was that when I discovered this negative pattern of thinking I would turn it upside down. I would shift my focus to what I do value and what brings me joy. Shifting the focus away from what other people are “doing to me” to what is it that I want to offer freely. What can I do to empower and support myself and others?
The other important lesson I learned from my experience this past week-end was that the things I value are my own “intentional self disciplines”. The trouble comes when I expect others to value the same things I value. Truth, integrity, self-less service, and respect are things that I value. These are the offerings of my heart. As long as I can lay my head down on my pillow at night secure in the knowledge that I have done my best to live by my own intentional self disciplines then I can sleep soundly. My mission is to lead by example not force.
Remember not to internalize the actions of others. Simply observe your own reactions and thought patterns without judgment and trace them back to the belief pattern. Then ask yourself… Is there any value in that belief?
If not, move on…… Om Namaha Shivaya!