Putting Yoga philosophy into practice.
For those of you who have been to yoga classes, you may have heard of teachers asking students to stay compassionate, reserve judgement and adopt an attitude of loving-kindness. Us participants all nod and agree and promise to uphold those teachings. However, good intentions aside, how do we resist judging others when confronted with hostile situations?
I am no stranger to racist taunts by drivers or those passing by; the self-righteous cackle of folk criticising my dog handling or the rearing of my kids. Others seem to always want to force their ideas onto me with judgement and hostility. The natural reaction is to be aggressive in return. Perhaps pick on the abusers inadequacies, flip a finger and then to hurl an expletive or two. On recounting these stories, friends want to hear that you stood up for yourself; that you "put them in their place". I suppose it's a hot topic as everyone will have encountered similar scenarios.
I've noticed that if I explain that I walked away silently, some friends see it as sign of weakness. Believe me, the temptation to fall into that default mode of "reacting" rather than "responding" is strong. Naturally I feel a strong urge to project and return those negative feelings. Fire Vs Fire. In my experience, this merely adds fuel to the already expansively growing rage and I'm left feeling unsatisfied. I lost control. While left feeling disappointed, friends give me a pat on the back, congratulating me on how I handled the situation. Consequently, the extreme emotions experienced causes physical symptoms for me, such as diarrhoea, vomiting and migraines. Does the cost balance out the worth?
Practising what we preach
When push comes to shove and we are taught to apply loving-kindness, it's these situations that test us. It's easy to say that we are not judgemental in the safety and confines of our mat but how do we apply this to our daily lives? When is REALLY matters.
Nowadays, I either say nothing or I thank the verbal assailants for their "feedback". This tactic usually leaves them looking bamboozled and awkward. They hurriedly wish to leave. I still feel pain of their verbal attack but I feel gladdened as I did not lose my sense of self.
I cried when I told a friend that it was hard not to allow these experiences to dull my shine. Holding onto my convictions and knowing in my heart that it was an opportunity for growth is easier said than done.
Do we view Silence as a sign of Strength or Weakness?
I wish to reach out to readers and ask them to challenge themselves, asking if they see retaliation as a strength or weakness.
We know that violence cannot be resolved with more violence so why do we call people names? To hurt them, because we feel hurt. I believe that this attitude contributes towards the formation of a dysfunctional society. We've all heard that bullies emerge as a result of being bullied themselves- there is a pattern.
I'm writing this to reach out to readers to say "no" to passing on negativity. To say "it stops here, with me, because I have the power to reduce suffering". At the end of the day, we as human beings, all wish for the same ideals: to find love, to be accepted and to be liberated from suffering.
Equally, there is a pattern that passing on positivity can cultivate more positivity. How about we turn this hostility on it's head and ask the assailant if they are okay? Otherwise say nothing but perhaps make someone's day with a compliment. I overheard a girl in adjacent cubicle in a store changing room sound distressed that she looked unattractive in the frock she was trying on. She was judging herself. When I opened the cubicle curtain, I was greeted by a beautiful sight- a young lady, swathed in green taffeta silk looking breath-takingly radiant. I said " For what it's worth, I think you looked gorgeous!". Her husband joyously punched the air in reply and she beamed with glee.
Now for the back-story: earlier that day, a homeless man told me to "get back to China". He had malice in his voice and completely caught me off guard. I'm not too proud to admit that I was deeply hurt. I could've carried that negativity with me and in fact, I could've chose to pass it on. Instead, I found the tenacity and resolve to spread love. It was hard but I stayed true to myself and surely that's worth something?
Are you up for the challenge? I believe in you.
YesYoga’s September Guest blog Post comes from the awesome, fierce, warrior mama with the most universal sized heart, Lena Fong .
We Salute you Super Woman!
Lena C D Fong
Acupuncturist and Yoga Teacher at Mulberry House, Edinburgh
Lena is a mother of 2 sons and is passionate about women's birth rights. She's run a busy acupuncture practice for over a decade and has treated a wide variety of conditions. Lena is playful; crazy about her sausage dogs and also teaches aerial yoga. Her vision is to improve the lives of people through mentoring, support, workshops and classes. For queries or even just a casual chat, contact her through Facebook.