“Transparency of mind comes by embracing an attitude of friendliness, compassion, happiness, and non-judgement toward those who are happy, miserable, virtuous, and non-virtuous.” -Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, PhD
I often encourage my students to find a place of compassion for themselves while they are practicing yoga in my studio. But what does that look like off the mat and how do we keep compassion alive when life is just kicking the asanas out of us? The struggle is real! Isn’t it?
I’ve been studying and preparing myself for the last part of my advance training at the Himalayan Institute at the end of the month. I’ve been reading a yoga sutra book that has the above quote in it. It made me think. What does transparency really mean? Well, I believe our mat is the flashlight that illuminates our light from within. This flashlight flickers when we are met with unkind thoughts towards ourselves. In essence, judging ourselves makes our light dim. It’s not uncommon when we start yoga to meet our asana practice with a bit of frustration that our body doesn’t respond the way we think it should. Immediately our bodies are met with judgement and unhappy thoughts and our practice becomes difficult. This, of course, only leads to a path of being miserable-on and off your mat.
I struggle with this concept when I leave my mat. I often times don’t show myself compassion. I am my own worse critic. Does that ever happen to you? For the past month, my focus has been on bringing in compassion for myself in an effort to finally shed that bullet proof vest I wore for years. Although I don’t wear it anymore, the armor is still there and I am chiseling away at it so I can be free physically from the pain of literally constricting my torso for so many years.
Thursday mornings are my morning to clean the studio. It’s often a day that I get to see my downtown neighbors I don’t see any other time because we are busy running our businesses. Last Thursday was so nice outside. I went downstairs and to sweep the sidewalk and cleaned the bench and door. Several friends stuck their heads out of their businesses and said hi, but one friend crossed the road to come talk to me. He was full of compliments on how great I was looking. Immediately inside my head I began to counter his compliments with a litany of lists of why he was incorrect. (My husband gets annoyed when I do this.). I’m not really sure what made me stop, but I just heard a little voice say “Ahimsa”, meaning non-violence towards yourself and others. I looked at him and told him thank you and proceeded to tell him how I have been working hard to release old stuff and to learn to be good with being feminine. He responded that I’m doing a great job. You know what I learned in that conversation? I learned that what others see in me is my light that shines from the inside. Not what my outsides show. My painful work I have been doing for the last month is beginning to liberate the dark spots and letting my light shine through even brighter. And he was kind enough to acknowledge that he sees me. What a nice moment for me.
What can you do to let your light shine a little brighter? Some use mantras or affirmations daily. One of the things I have been doing is a daily gratitude journal. I’m listing at least 10 things a day I am grateful for. Some small, some large gratitudes. It just allows me to look at my life in a way that is transparent. Of course, I also do my yoga practice, which is helping my body loosen the grip so to speak. I would love to hear from you on what you are doing to help your light shine. Or, even help you in class. All you have to do is show up and the teacher will appear.
Just as a side note: When my husband reads this he is going to get annoyed because he tells me what my friend in my story tells me all the time, but he gets the list in my head verbally. So, I just want to take this moment to acknowledge that I get it now and thank you I am grateful you have always seen me.