Every individual has the right to feel at the best of their abilities—to feel beautiful, loved, and important. With this right, though, comes the need to respect that same right in others.
When in full realization of ourselves, we honor our role in our communities, families, and society at large. We recognize how the life of another person is just as important as our own. Rather than being in competition against another, we develop ourselves alongside them.
Lately, our society is all about self-development. Growth is good, but when unsupervised, or with the wrong intention, it can lead to a self-centered attitude and lost of connection from community. With too much emphasis on the “self,” we find purpose only in ourselves.
When I hear about self-development programs—like meditations, juice cleanses and so on—I naturally want to join in. Who doesn’t want to feel good? When I see the trend it’s taking though, I’m wary of the dark side of this personal work. I’ve seen too many narcissists and egoists running wild in the self-help world, and can’t help but wonder if they started out that way.
I personally get bothered by the yoga student who, on top of holding a perfect posture, also feels the need to check others that are less proficient in that pose. That’s not what yoga is about for me. I am not in yoga to perform, nor to compare myself with others, and I would hope other yogis would feel the same.
If yoga and meditation lead people to feeling more important than the rest of the world, something isn’t right. Sure, there might be a point in our practice when we feel that we have reached a more profound, elaborate form of ourselves. We may notice ourselves performing faster or stronger than the people around us. Let’s not take pride in it. We’re not in practice for the pride. We’re not in yoga for our ego. Not everyone moves the same way or at the same pace. As yogis, we have to respect that.
It is good to feel confident about ourselves—that we have found ourselves, our goals, our purpose. Can we decide, then, to share our good energy? We want others to feel as good as we do, right? Let’s show our community how to be a whole, how to be mindful, how to love ourselves and others. If we can do it through yoga or a simple daily practice, we can inspire those around us to be better people in the world.
When we feel truly flexible and good within ourselves, “corpe sancto y espiritu santo” (right body, right mind) I believe our ultimate purpose is to help others feel that way too.
Yoga and meditation are about improving our health and overall wellbeing to realign our bodies and minds with the world. They teach personal harmony and awareness of ourselves and our communities. When done well, we feel more connected, not just with ourselves but with others on both a personal and global level.
We can develop our egos to limitless capacities, but this is not the mindful life. This is not what yoga, meditation, and self-development are truly about. Instead, it is about love. It is about listening to what our bodies and the world need most. Listening, and being kind, is how we benefit the world.
We are all part of a whole. Your role as a yogi is to love and make the world a better place. If you think you’ve reached a point of achievement, then take your practice outside of the studio and share the goodness around.
Like the wise adage says, “My liberty ends where yours begins.” Dear yogi, remind yourself every day that you are not the only human in the studio or the world. When you feel your skill getting to your head, breathe in this awareness and exhale your ego. Open your arms and let yourself be guided with love. Be kind and compassionate to others, and be grateful for the lives of those who share your studio. This this the path of a true yogi, and to a joyful life.
Author: Maïlis Bietenhader
Image: Dana Falsetti – Instagram
Editor: Danielle Beutell