Guest Post by Lorrie & Lal from Vastu School of Yoga.
All of the great sages teach us that the path to true happiness lies in compassion. This quality can be much more difficult to cultivate than other yogic practices such as pranayama, kriyas or asana, but just as important, if not more so. How can you begin to quiet your mind when you are harboring anger, jealousy, hatred or other uncomfortable feelings or thoughts? It’s not too difficult to practice compassion for strangers or individuals who are removed from us and with whom we do not need to engage on a regular basis. But what about those people who are closer to us, those who seem to press all our wrong buttons, trigger our foul moods or latent emotional baggage?
Fortunately for us, Yoga is not just a state of consciousness, but a scientific method to control the mind. Yoga gives us all the tools that we need to eradicate our vises and cultivate virtues such as compassion and love. The first lesson in the Bhagavad Gita teaches us the need for introspection. When another person gets under your skin, try not to judge them immediately. Instead, take a step back and try to see the other person from another perspective. Why are they behaving as they do, and why do their actions offend you so much? Through introspection, you will realize that this person is in your life for a reason, and you can discern just what lesson you can learn from them. There is no need for you to react negatively. Understand that your actions are your judge and everyone is subject to their own karma. This will help you to empathize with the other person and lead you to a deeper understanding of the other person and yourself. Introspection cultivates tolerance which will allow you to control your reactions to others. Tolerance is developed through the practice of Vairagya (dispassion). When we are dispassionate we do not take anything personally and we do not set expectations for others’ actions.
“Adapt, adjust and accommodate” is a teaching of the late great yoga master Swami Sivananda. This is a most important lesson for us when dealing with the difficult people in our lives. Exercising tolerance by “adapting, adjusting and accommodating” could be as simple as listening to someone who has told you the same story over and over again. It could be refraining from correcting someone who has a need to be right all the time or taking criticism without becoming angry or responding in kind. In these situations maintaining a disposition of non-attachment is essential. Listen to words without absorbing their emotional energy. Think of the other person as a mirror and pay attention to your energetic field. Keep thoughts of love and kindness at the forefront of your mind. For the most difficult situations you may need to temporarily remove yourself from the situation, introspect, and practice tolerance from a distance sending the other individual positive and loving thoughts.
Introspection and tolerance are tools to cope with individuals who press us in our everyday lives. By employing these tools we will act in a more compassionate manner and learn more about ourselves in the process. Cultivating compassion will naturally lead us to become more generous. Sharing what we have with others through selfless service is the one true way to a compassionate heart. Practice giving your time, sharing your possessions and caring for the welfare of others. The more you practice selfless service, the more you will realize that you are connected with everyone else and a part of the whole. You will no longer see people as difficult, but as your own Self.
Vastu Yoga offers Yoga teacher training, 5 and 7 day retreats and daily yoga classes at the beautiful Na Balam Resort Hotel located on Isla Mujeres, a little island just off the coast of Cancun, Mexico.