Loving Kindness and Yoga
You can find loving kindness with yoga, I did. Loving kindness is the natural by-product of my yoga practice and my growth as a yogi. To be a yogi is to desire and strive for my potential. I’m not sure how that will look yet I can keep moving in that direction by following what makes sense to me and what feels right. I see nature’s perfection and I know I am part of that. I see that challenges are important tools that facilitate growth. I know wisdom and knowledge comes from experience whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant. More and more I am embracing my whole life. Awareness is the key as I catch myself slipping into stress inducing qualities and I pull my mind away knowing there is nothing wrong even when this don’t feel good. Then placing my mind in a place of my choosing.
As I started my yoga journey about 40 years ago the concept of karma (the law of attraction) struck me hard. The idea that what goes around comes around. Somehow I believed this law and principal to be true. Believing this was my first steps toward awareness as I needed to be aware that how I treated others would come back and bite in the keester. You could say this was the beginning of loving kindness in the sense I was engaging in less and less harmful (to others) activities. This is a selfish reason to be kind as I cared less about others and more about experiencing less personal unpleasantness yet it was a beginning.
Soon I started becoming aware of all the trouble I had caused others and myself and all the problems I created and basically what an A-hole I was to so many so often. Yet I have not only forgiven myself I realize that all of that and all of the ramifications to all of that have helped me learn and grow and become all I am today. So I understand the importance of my past. So when I see others acting out in a harmful manner I simply see myself at another time. I have compassion towards them as I know there was a time when I harmed many as well. This allows me less enmity and more loving kindness. I also realize a lot of my hurtful acts were a by-product of a hurtful childhood and the messages I absorbed as my character formed (between the ages of 0 – 6). I understand others are acting out as well. This helps in being less reactive and more patient, forgiving and tolerant. This also helps curtail any negative, vengeful or spiteful responses reducing the negativity bouncing back towards me.
This all stems from awareness and acknowledging the truth about myself. Denial is like walking into a wall over and over again. Awareness is one day realizing the pain of truly seeing your self is less painful then walking into that wall. Now when I realized the pain and suffering in my life was for the most part the outcome of my malevolent thoughts and actions eventually I graduated to the next realization which was if malevolence creates malevolence then benevolence can and will create benevolence. This was like a f@#king light bulb turning on in my head.
Long story short I have not been in a verbal or physical altercation and I have not been in jail in 20 some years. Not only am I not attracting this in my life but when the sh*t hits the fan I’m less reactive and not fanning those flames of harm. Mahatma Gandhi’s most famous quote was “ Be the change you want to see “ I can almost guarantee he was not talking about your hamstrings. Basically if you want loving kindness in your life than develop loving kindness. We can cultivate loving kindness with yoga practice, which might be yoga’s highest purpose. We can have loving kindness meditations we can have loving kindness yoga sequences. Loving kindness in our yoga practice, whether it’s asana or meditation is basically the intention behind the action. When doing a forward bend are you doing it to get flexible or to get well? Your teacher is your life experiences and your teacher taught you the harder you are on anything the faster you wear it out. Are you being aggressive or gentle? Are you trying to change it or care for it? Can you express loving kindness towards yourself even if it’s not egotistically gratifying? This means being more dominated by your awareness (wisdom) than your vanity or (fear). In doing so you start to develop loving kindness. This is very difficult and our previous learned behaviors are imbedded deep and we get little support from our culture and society. Yet this is the highest purpose of a yoga class and we are here to support this. Here’s a little gift from me to you... The Meditation of Compassion.
Sincerely, bryan kest