“Are you really going to wear that? You look like you’re looking for a big dick in that outfit.” (English was his second language.)
I changed out of my cozy shorts and comfortable baggy shirt. This was nine years ago.
There is a great quote by Maya Angelou, “Most people will not remember what you said or what you did—but they will remember how you made them feel.”
Honestly, I couldn’t agree more.
There is very little that I remember from that horrific four year marriage to an abusive ex-husband—I do, however, remember how the relationship made me feel.
There were times I felt good, I remember, although most times I ached deeply with a pain that cut through my soul like never before, a pain that took years to heal, and sometimes I am not sure if it has fully healed. It’s a feeling so bottomless that once in awhile it creeps up, like a reoccurring nightmare, when I hear something sad or see pain and suffering.
It is true that suffering creates compassion—for this I am thankful. I’ve lived it first hand and I would not trade my experience for anything.
We all know what it feels like to be hurt; we know the emotion all to well.
We also know what it feels like to loved.
What if we could take our understanding of these two very conflicting feelings and use them to create more tranquility in the world?
I’m remembering back to the first day I was scarred for my life.
We had a small, cute house nestled in an upper neighborhood on Maui’s South Shore in a town called Kehei. My partner was upset; I had done something “wrong.” I can’t recall what he was so angry about, or even the things he said—I do, however, remember how I felt.
He had left the house like a tornado, knocking down plants, picture frames and scaring the dog. He pealed out of the drive way like a bat out of hell.
I knew he would return soon.
I was frantically crying, trying to make sense of the madness, so I decided to hide quickly. By hopping onto the fence outside, I could shimmy myself up to the roof, so I brought my headphones and music to this safe haven.
I rested here on the roof for sometime, gathering my thoughts, planning better escapes and reasoning with my mind while listening to Enya, as she soothed my weary soul.
No sooner had I become relaxed when he arrived in the driveway. I watched from above, careful not to make a peep as he thrashed around looking for me and cursing my name.
I was frightened and intimidated;m y heart had never felt so heavy. I felt stuck, weak and helpless. I felt like no one could possibly understand why I was in this relationship. I was ashamed for myself and for the loss of my dignity.
How did this happen? How did I arrive here? This world was very dark and I was very alone—only my dog knew the ache of my soul.
I have been asking myself, “How do I make people feel? How do I want people to feel when I leave?”
The answer to a yogi is clear.
We want to share our light. We want people to feel that light. This is our practice—leave a genuine impression of care, love and goodness to all that we meet.
We have numerous opportunities daily to be examples of how to spread kindness. Often times, we take our family for granted—they are no exception to our practice. (Don’t forget about the ones you don’t care so strongly for.)
Even though what feels like a lifetime has past, I know I will see my ex-partner again.
When I do, I know exactly how I want him to feel. You may be thinking, “Make him feel bad. Make him hurt. Show him how well off you are without him.”
And trust me I’ve had those thoughts, too.
But I’ve come along way in this yoga practice and today I see him as a teacher. When we meet again, I will thank him for all the lessons I learned—for the growth that wasn’t possible without him in my life.
I will share my gratitude for every day, every scenario, for the good times and the ones that broke my heart, only to make it stronger. Energetically, I will hug him and I will leave him feeling loved and genuinely appreciated.
We can start small with this practice of compassion, but we need to leave others feeling loved always—starting with our community, with gratitude for the many who meet us on our path. Like the one who bags our groceries, the bank teller, the postman, the parking lot attendant and the store clerk.
Let everyone know you appreciate their service. Ask how their day is going; compliment them if you notice something beautiful.
Smile more. Say hello to strangers.
There are days when my practice doesn’t always come natural; those are the days I lean into the shadow of my past, not to mourn or pity, but to find power and comfort.
It is in the darkness of the cave that the light is that much brighter.
So, ask yourself, “How do you make people feel?”
There is an unspoken truth nestled in each of our hearts. It tugs at us. We all long to feel loved.
Yoga Sutra 11:36 Dedicated to truth and integrity (Satya), our thoughts, words and actions gain the power to manifest.
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Assistant Ed: Laura Ashworth/Ed: Bryonie Wise