Do you know a negative-Nelly?
Most people I’ve discussed it with can attest to having some moody-Margaret in their life. The trouble I’ve had is identifying jealous-Jodie’s shit from my own shit and learning to let it go.
How often have you heard: When you react to something in somebody else, you are usually reacting to something that’s already in you? I have to admit to finding this difficult to swallow. But, after reading all of Eckharte Tolle’s books where he mentions it several hundred times, I was slowly persuaded.
This lesson is now on my drawing board and one I come back to time and time again.
Recently, I had the experience of working with a mean-Melissa: complain, rant, throw her toys, sigh and complain some more. The workplace and relationship became the Oxford dictionary definition of walking on egg shells. I allowed it to consume me—gossiping with colleagues in indirect languaging and a raised eyebrow. If only this person could be different: act appropriately, behave, grow up, listen more, be professional.
If I’m listening quietly, I’ll hear the little yogi in my mind say, Whoops! When did her shit turn in to my shit? It’s so tempting to get drawn in to the show and start playing out all those old habits—reacting out of past experiences, rather than living from the present moment, from the heart and in no judgement.
Lofty ideals? Maybe.
But, I do believe that the more we practice compassion and living from the heart—rather than the head—the less the catty-Kelly’s of the world will bring us down. There is loads of neuro-science research these days proving the health benefits of being compassionate. Science and yoga are slowly aligning.
Tapasya alert! For the next seven days, when I notice a strong aversion in a relationship, I’ll come back to myself rather than expect the other person to change. Perhaps a little tweak in attitude, or an adjustment in expectations will do the trick. Michael Jackson said, I’m starting with the man in the mirror—and that guy was usually right!
In yoga, the gurus talk about the transition to enlightenment—recognizing your self as the ocean, rather than the disjointed wave bobbing on top. I understand this in theory; I appreciate it in my heart. But, as I’m not in a constant state of euphoria, I don’t know if I quite believe it—yet.
I don’t think it’s a generalization to say that a lot of people walk around, day-to-day, under a cloud of moodiness. We have become so identified with the steady stream of thoughts in our own minds, and the hundreds of thousands of stories we tell, we have forgotten we are not our minds.
I’m a sensitive soul and I have been known to get caught up by the idlest of throwaway comments. Recently at a Mumford & Sons concert my beautiful, lovely, cheerful, sweetly-spirited flat mate Trudy made a throw away comment about my big eyes. Engrained memories of primary school bullies poking fun at my big, round, bug-like, frog-like, bird-like eyes (they seemed to have an affinity for animal similes) came rushing back and before I could be rational, I felt hurt.
I confessed to Trudy my silly secret. She was disappointed—Don’t listen to my throw away comments! I understood what she meant, but it was still funny watching my immediate reaction to something that was so obviously deeply engrained in my tiny, little, mini-identity badge.
I employ us to observe our minds. The more we practice, the easier it gets. Let’s watch when we trail off with some story about so-and-so and the resulting impact on your mood for a day, or for god sake, sometimes years! Ultimately, our thoughts create our reality. We can speak to our mind as if it is a four year-old; ask it to play with you, make friends.
I can’t promise by practicing this all the annoying, negative, selfish, funny-bunnies of the world will go away; however, we might notice some big shifts in ourselves.
Like the ability to recognize someone else’s shit over our shit—to giggle in the face of negativity and throw away comments, and enjoy an ever-growing self-confidence.
Kate Southward, New Zealander is the curator and founder of Yogi’s Basket, a holistic wellness & yoga magazine inspiring access to ‘the good life’. A 500 hour Yoga Alliance accredited teacher, Kate was mentored by Australia’s Yoga Education Guru Mark Breadner. An intuitive teacher, Kate believes to overcome stress in modern day life we need to rest down and let in. Follow Kate’s wisdom at Yogi’s Basket or Facebook or on Twitter.~Editor: Nikki Di Virgilio
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