Reminded today of the first step in living yoga, my instructor posted about ahimsa, the first of the eight limbs of yoga. Now it discussed ahimsa and how it relates to compassion for all living things, pointing towards living a vegetarian lifestyle because true compassion for all livings things would make a carnivorous lifestyle disgusting. I have decided to try vegetarianism, but I am not sure how it will hold. Personally, I’ve always held to an idea that you never take more than you need. Being of a pagan persuasion, taking more than you need is more than greedy, but destructive to the environment around you. That you only take by asking the spirit of the plant or animal, and then thanking them for their sacrifice, and using each part fully. Nothing should be wasted. So then I began the though process on compassion, and how I relate to that word, its definition, and how it applies to my life. I have always considered myself to be compassionate to others, and empathetic/sympathetic to how others are feeling. Each person has their battles to fight, a story, and each person should have a mutual respect for those battles and stories. This is obviously always easier said than down, and I most certainly have done my fair share of road rage. However, I do try to consciously remind myself that they are people too, and that I should not judge them because I do not know their story. Who am I to judge? The one person that I have noticed that I lack almost all compassion for was myself.
How do you be compassionate to yourself? How can you bring ahimsa to yourself? Now there’s something to meditate on. I suppose it would have to start with your thoughts, how you think of yourself. Do you have negative thoughts towards yourself? Are you overly aggressive in judging yourself? Do you forgive yourself for any wrongdoings, or do you hold a grudge against yourself? If I sit and reflect on my life, yes there are a few things I wish I could change from the age 12 on, but realize that each part made me who I am today, led me on this path to yoga and finding my spirituality. There are some things that I find it hard to forgive. People that I caused deep hurt to that I wish I could go back and erase, redo, undo. Flights of fancy about time travel have entered a day-dream or two for me. The deep regret I feel for causing such emotional pain to some people I find hard to forgive. I find it hard to forgive myself, though logically I have debated with myself over each action, reaction, effect, yada yada yada, and even logically I know I should forgive myself, show myself some iota of compassion for the fact that I was young, I cannot forgive totally. The excuse of being young and not knowing any better goes out the window when I knew my actions would hurt another and I did it anyways. Even today, with my loving husband, I find myself sometimes reaction wrong and causing little hurts, that should never be caused at all. I know we are human, that we must strive to be better every day, yet I won’t lie, I have dreamed of that magic wand that makes everything okay.
So I turned to a book. There is always a book for me to fit almost any given situation. You know the saying, “Theres an app for that”? Theres a book for that! Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Sutra II.33 to be exact. “vitarka-badhane pratipaksa-bhavanam” or “Upon being harassed by negative thoughts, one should cultivate counteracting thoughts.” Essentially, if you have nothing but negative thoughts, think positively. It would be a good exercise to replace every negative thought you have throughout the day with a positive one. This would mean being very aware of every thought you have, being mindful. If words have power, then don’t thoughts? Sometimes I think things I would never say out loud, so why should I think them at all? Thoughts will arise, they float through your mind like clouds, it’s up to each of us to be mindful of this and blow the negative ones away, till we have stilled our mind thoroughly and thoughtfully to keep only the positive. Now it sounds easier than done, I know this because I tried to do it all day today. Crap, I am one mean son of a to myself. If I am so mean to myself, why would I ever expect anyone to be nice to me? Compassionate towards me? A popular saying is to be the change you want to see in the world. Be the change, be the positive you want. Be compassionate to yourself, love yourself, befriend yourself, any then it will reverberate throughout your life. Into everything you do, you will put out positive vibes that can only come back to you. My imagination thinks of this and the positive thought boomerang.
For the next week this is my goal, to think about myself positively, to banish each negative thought I have about myself, and others, to the nether of space, and counter each one with a positive thought. I know it will work, that it will be worth the effort, but it will be a lot of effort, and a lot of meditation. On that note, I hope you had a glorious Sunday, and have a good Monday morning!