Yoga is the practice of creating or yoking a union between body & mind, bringing you more into alignment with your big “S” self.
The ethical principles/restraints of yoga speak to:
- Being kind to yourself and others (ahimsa),
- being honest to yourself and others (satya),
- to not steal, time, things, energy from yourself or others (Asteya),
- walking in alignment with the divine, your highest self (Bramacharya)
- and not clinging or gripping to things that are not meant for you (Aparigraha).
I often consider how sometimes these principles can be translated into what is the culture of being “fake nice” and superficially loving everyone – emoji’s to the entire world.
This phenomenon is also embodied in the often asked question: “How are you?” And the all too familiar response: “Fine.” or “Good.” even if that is not how we are feeling. The person asking the question also rarely cares or listens for the answer.
The work of truly loving ourselves and loving everyone is fucking hard and it doesn’t mean that we are BFF’s (Best Friends Forever) with every person that we come across. It also doesn’t mean making ourselves small and not speaking our truth in order to avoid conflict, because that ultimately harms us. What it does mean is finding the balance between being kind and honest with ourselves, while extending the same to others.
There seems to be this perception that the yoga world is all about playing with puppies, dancing in a field of flowers while a rainbow shines overhead. Although, there are most certainly moments like this – glimmers of bliss – a lot of the work of yoga in order to land in the bliss is ugly, stormy and the anti-thesis of the above image.
It is uncomfortable to work with the self, to see ourselves as we are. Even to truly love ourselves, as we are without changing. Without a diet, makeup, or makeover. To truly love ourselves as we are IS the work.
Ram Dass‘s guru, Maharajii spoke to this in his most quoted phrase “Serve God and Love Everyone.” Sounds simple right? Send those emoji’s out to everyone you know 😉
This work is also hard, as he is not referring to the superficial love, but the love of seeing god/God/Yawah/Allah/Ram/Krishna and the divine in everyone. This is also fucking hard. Can we put aside our own story? The story of the self, when we interact with those around us even for just a few moments to connect deeply, soul to soul?
Even for a simple exchange, like “Hi, how are you?” Can we truly listen to the answer?
The reality is, that this is a hit and miss practice.
Some days it’s easier than others and that is okay because we are human and only trying to do our best. I would much rather have 5 authentic interactions then 100 superficial ones. Ironically, the pressure to feel like we have to always be upbeat, positive & shine our light towards everyone all the time can also cause feelings of distress, anxiety and depression.
When we are being inauthentic in our interaction with people, we are doing both ourselves and them a disservice. So, just be you. Do the work of finding the divine within yourself, and rest there as often as you can and connect authentically to those around you.
This is yoga, not the superficial, not the false. Start with yourself and from that place move outward.