Damp Yoga Thoughts on Interconnectedness.

Via on Dec 8, 2010

(Or How I Got Splattered With A Puddle and Someone Else’s Mood)

There I was in the Target parking lot on a wind-whipped, rainy day. I’d just stepped in a gigantic puddle, so in addition to being wet from the driving rain, my left foot was soaked through. Of course, my purchases were heavy – two cases of water for an upcoming yoga retreat. As I struggled to move the water from the cart to my car, I heard a voice. “Nice parking job.” With a case of water in my hands, I twisted around to see past the hood of my rain jacket. The car next to me had pulled halfway out of its parking spot. The woman had taken the time to stop her car and roll down her window (in this rain!) in order to scold me. Incredulous, I said, “What?” She virtually spit at me, “You parked really close to me.” She then threw her car into drive and squealed away from me, leaving me splattered not just with more of the puddle but with her foul mood.

I found myself muttering mean things about her as I dripped into my car. But, as a trained yoga professional (ha!), I realized that I was allowing her negative energy to infect me. I’d headed out on this errand with a smile on my face despite the weather. In addition to getting the water on sale, I’d found the perfect pair of pajamas for my Tinker-Bell-loving niece. Other than being slightly damper than I generally like to be, my day was going just fine. I took a deep breath and forced myself to see things from her point of view. God knows what kind of day she’d had that would make her behave so horribly. I tried to feel empathy for her. When that didn’t work, I tried to imagine how lonely she must be because no one would be friends with such a mean person. Pity turned out to be a little easier.

Still, as I made my way home, her words replayed in my head over and over. Let me tell you, as they did, I was coming up with some really snappy comebacks — each one more biting than the next. Again, the trained yoga professional in me raised her voice. “What are you doing?  Your thoughts are as awful as she was. Stop it!” So I stopped. Only to have to stop again and again the whole way home. The splatter of her mood was really tough to rinse off.

We’re all connected. Whether we know each other or not, we make an impact on one another. Yoga teaches us to pay more attention to cause and effect. We practice on our mats by noticing how a posture changes if we simply straighten our elbows or relax the muscles of our thighs. Time spent on our mats can also illustrate our interconnectedness with others. As we practice in a group class, we may notice that one person toppling out of a balancing posture (i.e. Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana or Vrkasana) can bring down the whole class. We may notice how two or three strong breathers in a room can inspire the entire group to deep, rhythmic breath. Yoga reveals the powerful effects our actions can have – negative or positive.

This stranger in the Target parking lot is an illustration of the powerful impact we have on one another.

Each person that we encounter represents a choice. We can choose to shine or we can choose not to. The woman who splattered her bad mood all over me, chose not to. And it was a powerful choice. She changed the tenor of the next thirty minutes of my day as I worked to rinse myself clean of the experience of meeting her. If I hadn’t been on my yoga game, her mean-spirited words could have dampened even more of my day. Worse yet, her choice could have messed up more people’s days if I’d acted on the nasty feelings her words left in me.

Imagine an entirely different scenario in that parking lot. Imagine if I’d turned to peer out from under the hood of my rain jacket to find her smiling at me. Imagine if she’d decided, in that moment she took out of her day to speak to me, to ask through her car window if I needed a hand. What if she’d chosen to shine love and compassion my way? That would have been a powerful choice indeed. I suspect the afterglow of an exchange like that would have left me floating on good feelings for a whole lot longer than thirty minutes. There’s a decent chance that her choice to be kind to me would have inspired me to reach out to someone else in a similar gesture.

Today, with each person you encounter, why not choose to shine?

Namaste,

Amy
www.yogawithspirit.com

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About Amy Nobles Dolan

Amy lives with her husband and three children in suburban Philadelphia. She discovered yoga when her third child was still a baby as she searched for a way to reclaim her body as her own. Very quickly, yoga went from a weekly two hours of "me-time" to a life-changing passion. It is Amy’s great joy to be able to share the very real, every-day gifts of yoga with others—through both her yoga classes and her essays about the practice. Become a fan of "Yoga Thoughts" on Facebook. You can read more Yoga Thoughts essays on her website. www.yogawithspirit.com

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10 Responses to “Damp Yoga Thoughts on Interconnectedness.”

  1. Evolve Yoga says:

    yeah!

  2. Welcome to Elephant, Amy. It's great to have you here.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  3. catlyn777 says:

    I adore your story and teaching! We all need to keep on practicing at not only splattering mud on others, but also to wash off the mud splattered on us as quickly as possible (which I thought you illustrated and accomplished very well! Kudos!

    I also thought of another "what if" for this scenario. "What if" when this woman rolled down her window to scold you, "what if" your response would have been a heartfelt and sincere apology from the heart for causing ANY inconvenience to her, and then holding up your hand in a "peace sign". "What if" you were able to take this unexpected opportunity to the next level, and were also able to share peace, love and compassion to this apparently possibly unhappy, stressed woman. "What if" you were able to plant a seed that caused her to at least wonder about the the peace and serenity that you were able carry in your heart at all times, even in the face of someone being negative and critical towards you. You may have also been able to begin the stirrings in her heart for a quest to find out how she could have that kind of "way to be" as a possibility for herself? namaste

    • Thank you for your comment and the good thoughts. I wish I'd had the presence (and time — she sped off so quickly!) to respond as you suggested. Luckily, my practice has taught me that there will always be another chance.

  4. dan says:

    I recently found a note om my car, “Don’t F*ing Block People In!” and I was right to receive it; yes, the parking lot was confusing, but I wasn’t paying attention and messed up someone’s day- hopefully they weren’t in a rush.
    The article could’ve been about how, even in the rain picking up bottled water from Target, we need to respect other people’s lives, and recognize our own failures especially when they effect others.

  5. catlyn777 says:

    I know how that goes, Amy. I often go into a shock when someone is rude to me out of the blue like that. I wish I could always respond very quickly, but, no, I usually just go kinda blank, only to think of a great response when it is a few minutes too late! But, I still really like your story, and how you did not let it ruin your day! Instead you knew that you could make the choice to make a quick recovery. I have so often heard people say that they had a "bad day", but then describe something that really only lasted less than a minute in that day. I am working on staying very aware of the moment I am in, and quickly letting go of any negativity, but that is still a work in progress :)

  6. candicegarrett says:

    oh how often I've found myself in that "I should have said THIS!!!" scenario. Good for you that were able to take it as a lesson in your day. Lovely article.

  7. I've also been the recipient of the reverse. The other day I had to be at a meeting I didn't want to attend. I was there sitting alone, radianting negative energy, and one kind soul sat beside me and complimented me on my thoughtful contributions. How quickly my mood changed. The meeting was productive and I felt lighter and appreciated. We are connected. Hopefully we will strive to be a force for creating positive energy.

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