It is possible…

In yoga, there is this concept of “practice”.  Not crossing a finish line or attaining merit but value gained from consistent practice.  Your own practice; your own body’s way. This concept of practice opens up a whole new world of possibilities because it’s not necessary to master something, only to set out to practice it.  Intention…

It is not necessary (or possible) to solve all the problems in the world.  By solving some problems, you may even get in the way of someone’s growth.  However, it IS POSSIBLE to set intentions.  It is possible to practice a certain frame of thought, feed peace, starve unrest, and take the next step in the direction you want to go.

It is not possible to change what other people do but it is possible to imagine people living healthy lives, making choices that are right for them and wishing good things to come into their lives.

I do not know why or how but I am here typing truth I have seen in my life now: good things have come to those to whom I have intended good things to come.  I did not do it, I know this, but yet I feel in some way I helped.  If nothing else, I let go of negative thoughts about their situation, freeing myself of that unnecessary burden.   I am unable to spend mental energy on everyone in the world but I do have people in my circle of influence I can practice loving unconditionally.  We all do.

What if we all did?  What’s the saying about 6 degrees of separation?  If we all thought about good things coming to 6-10 people, including ourselves, could we change the world?  I think so.  I have seen positive changes in my life when people are praying for me.  Even if I didn’t believe in how they were praying or who they were praying to, their prayers worked.

I find peace and joy by feeding peaceful and joyous thoughts.  It hurts my heart when people are unhappy, burdened by negativity and feeding helplessness.  I was taught that you shouldn’t be happy if other people are unhappy and it seems that there’s always someone who is unhappy.  That does not work for me so I’m practicing something else, a different way of thinking…

No matter what, there is someone in the world who has less and someone in the world who has more.  If not in material things, in something else (intelligence, physical ability, number of friends, health….).  It accomplishes nothing to compare oneself to someone else.  The only value in looking at what someone else says, has or does is to see yourself in them; see ways you can grow.

I am testifying before you now that you do not have to carry the burden of misery.  Unpleasantness happens but it’s over more quickly when it’s seen and accepted for what it is: a bump in the road, an opportunity for growth, a bookmark to remind you what you are grateful for…

I close with excerpts from Yoga Sutra 1.33 that resonated with me:

The first suggestion is that we cultivate friendship and happiness towards those who are happier than we are.  When we are fortunate enough to meet people who are consistently happy and content, we should seek out their friendship.  In this way we can learn from them and share their joy… We can become so busy wishing we were happy, that we lose the opportunity to share and learn from them…

The second suggestion is that we cultivate compassion for those who are unhappy.  All people, and all living beings, want to be happy.  When we are suffering, we are so grateful to others who offer any support – even just a friendly smile or a knowing glance…Even if the person is not someone you know, or if it is someone you don’t like…their suffering is keenly felt, and finding compassion in yourself pushes out hatred and opens a place of love…

The third suggestion of Yoga Sutra 1.33 is that we cultivate joy and gladness toward those who are virtuous…appreciating the virtuous actions of others and celebrating the good fortune of others.  Often times, it is easier to see the faults and shortcomings of others, and unfortunately, that causes our mental energy to become critical, divisive, and harsh.  When we see good in others, and celebrate their good intentions and actions…we feel a sense of unity with them, and a general sense of appreciation for others.  Also, when we see other people receiving good fortune – whether it’s a promotion, a new loving partner, a winning lottery ticket – we are often tempted to evaluate whether or not they deserve what they have received…If there has been some gross injustice, perhaps you will chose to take some action… but generally speaking, if we can celebrate with them and be glad for their good fortune, we will find ourselves feeling a sense of peace, rather than one of conflict.  Naturally enough, none of us is perfect, and we all appreciate it when others forgive us our shortcomings and look at our finer qualities instead.

Finally, the hardest of all, is the suggestion that we remain undisturbed by the errors of others…  In his speech “Loving Your Enemies,” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. talks about the difference between loving a person and liking a person… finding the ability to recognize the humanity in others, even if they have committed harsh or terrible actions.  We do this, not for their sake, but for our own sake – so that we do not fall into a cycle of unforgiving, impatient and vengeful behavior.  This doesn’t mean that we mustn’t act in the world; this is not an excuse for not getting involved in matters of justice and social progress.  However, when we are able to see the humanity in others, we keep ourselves centered – and we are able to act in the world from a place of calm and stability, rather than lashing out from an emotionally reactive and defensive position. And this is when we are most likely to be effective and to change people’s hearts and actions.

Namaste

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