A lot of things about me have changed since I began doing yoga at EYC about 6 months ago. Physically and mentally, I am a stronger person than I have ever been. I am more forgiving to myself, am quicker to recognize hurtful thought patterns and have a progressively easier time reminding myself about that which is my Truth.
I have stretched and strengthened more than muscles, but also my mind. I am more open to new ideas than I have ever been. It’s been years since I said with any morsel of true faith that I believe in a higher power and now I say it proudly and, what’s more, I feel it with all of my being. I have developed more than just physical flexibility. Now I find it easier to adapt to changing situations, to get in where I fit in, to deal with situations as they occur rather than ignoring them and fighting with the emotions they bring up.
But perhaps one of the most remarkable changes in myself that I noticed was the stretching and strengthening of my compassion towards others. I was known in the past as a very sarcastic person. I’ve got it in me to be condescending and stuck up. I spent a lot of time with a “holier-than-thou” mentality. But two things happened to begin changing this in me. (It’s still in the process too– don’t be mistaken and think that I’m saying I’m Mother Theresa over here. In fact, the reason I’m writing about this now is because of recent struggles with compassion.) The first was my yoga practice. The second is thanks to the novels by the YA author and beloved Nerdfighter, John Green, who themes his works around the idea of imagining other people as complex beings and not just props and scenery outside of ourselves. As I got deeper into it and began to understand more about the energies flowing throughout the earth and the power of love and gratitude and kindness, I softened. During our asana practice, it’s important to be soft in all of our poses. Even if it’s a powerful pose and takes concentration and strength and we feel ourselves tighten on that edge, we must find the softness. And so did my heart find that softness. I found myself considering the feelings of others more. I became more aware of how what I said or did may have the power to either help or harm someone and I gradually, and unconsciously, began straying from the behaviors that may hurt others.
For instance, without meaning to, I began cursing less. Me. Who loved to throw out the F-bombs and other powerful, almost pornographic words with astonishing frequency. Also without knowingly doing so, I gradually left my sarcastic nature behind me. It didn’t give me anything to feel good about to be insulting or belittling to others. Then I started noticing a pang of guilt when I said something judgemental about someone. This has become something that I am making a conscious effort to control. (Also, let me say that it’s not that I’ve become uptight. There’s good-natured ribbing and joking with friends and then there’s the behaviors that I was engaging in. They’re totally different and it’s the latter that I am trying to more fully release.)
The more I’ve come to understand ideas of interconnectedness and unity of life, I’ve realized that these negative behaviors hurt me too. When we consider that we are one, everything is part of the same whole, and I am hurtful to another, then I am hurtful to myself. I am more fulfilled when I honor others and respect them.
Lately I have felt that I haven’t been so true to these ideals as I should like to be. I’ve consciously engaged in negative behaviors and sent forth negative thoughts to others simply because that is what the company by which I was surrounded was doing. I took their cue. My mind and my mouth were saying two different things. My mouth uttered negativities and my mind watched in silent disgust. And I felt badly because I knew that the things I said were not me. I am not that person any longer.
Thus, I’ve got a new yoga practice to work on right now. I am going to continue to stretch and strengthen my compassion towards others and remain true to myself, for mine is a quest for truth, peace and honor.