Yoga is a place for me to get a little therapy, in a bit of an incognito way. A good yoga instructor doesn’t just teach the physical postures, the asanas, but also garnishes insights and poses questions that inspire reflection on important principles of healthy being. It is hard to focus when our brains are abuzz with anxieties, and to-do lists constantly swirl around in our heads. The asanas exist to wring out the body and clear the mind, so we are able to focus on what is important. There are two simple ideas that are consistently returned to by the yogis at the studio, that have really stuck with me, off the mat.
How do I apply it? I try to ask myself questions, or think of statements like these, especially when I find myself feeling frustrated or annoyed:
Are they doing okay?
What’s the root of the behavior I’m so annoyed with?
Are they acting that way because they are stressed or tired?
Are they having an off day/week/month/year?
Am I focusing only on the negative?
Do they need some help?
Do they need a smile? A hug?
Do they need me to back off?
What can I do to help?
Nobody is perfect. Not even me. And that’s okay.
Everyone has their “thing”. Even me. And that’s okay.
Everyone does what they can, at the time. Sometimes it’s a lot, sometimes it’s very little.
Are you recognizing all the good they do? Am I recognizing all the good I am doing?
Are you beating them up because they aren’t doing everything perfectly? Are you beating yourself up?
Are you being gentle with them? With yourself?
There are millions of questions that all boil down to the same thing. Am I being compassionate with myself and others? Being compassionate doesn’t mean needing to set yourself on fire to keep others warm, which is why, for me, compassion is balanced with honesty.
How do I apply it? I ask myself questions like these:
Am I working hard enough?
Am I doing what I can?
Do I need a break?
Do they need a break?
Am I giving him/her a chance?
Am I being too harsh?
Am I being too lenient?
Have I done all I can?
Am I taking things too personally?
Do I have enough information to make any kind of judgment?
Am I reading too much between the lines?
Am I giving enough attention to those around me? Am I giving enough attention to me?
Can I keep jogging another mile or am I too tired? Do I need to slow down? Can I speed up?
Do I really want to eat that donut?
There are millions of questions that all ask the same thing, Am I being honest?
It’s a funny thing how being truthful helps balance out the never-ending-giving that compassion warrants, however it also usually results in more compassion in the end.
I am by no means empathetic and honest at all times, especially right in the heat of the moment. But I won’t beat myself up about it. I’ll just keep working to be better and these two little phrases will help get me there.
This post is part of 1000 Voices for Compassion – A thousand (plus!) bloggers have decided to clog the newsfeeds with COMPASSION today to help counter the doom and gloom we so often scroll through. There’s a lot of good out there, people. Click on the image below to read the post from Finding Ninee, (one of my fave bloggers and one of the hosts of this blogging event) as well as links to many other uplifting posts.