Which of these is most challenging for you? I am personally challenged most by judging/accepting, followed by talking/listening. Ironically, when I listen more, I am less judgmental. Hmmmm… coincidence?
Most people, including me, have the greatest challenge accepting the past without regret. What part of your past could you simply accept as being done, over, no longer capable of being changed in any way? The next step is seeing that past as making you who you are today. Every part of that past has contributed to who you are, even the parts that you might be ashamed of, or are still carrying hurt over. If you truly accept your past, AND you have confidence today, then there is no need for regret. Make peace with your past.
This article appears in Sun and Moon Yoga Studios latest newsletter. Find it on their website: http://sunandmoonstudio.com/index.shtml
I recently spent a week in the Ojai Valley in California, where I had the opportunity to go horseback riding. On the trail, I reminisced about my grandfather, who at one time was a rodeo cowboy in Roundup, Montana. Of the many bits of cowboy wisdom he imparted to me, one stands out to this day: “When the horse dies, dismount!”
Periodically, we face “dead horses” in life. Our first instinct leads us to do things like buy a stronger whip: say things like, “This is how I’ve always ridden this horse”; or think things like blaming the horse’s parents. We find it difficult to determine what can and cannot be changed — and are afraid to admit that it’s time to move on.
This old cowboy wisdom parallels the yoga teachings of accurate perception — seeing things as they are now and not how we want them to be. Clear seeing undoubtedly precedes good judgment and sound decisions about how to act, but unfortunately, human experience is rife with unclear seeing. We all look at what is and paint it with our own opinions about good/bad, right/wrong. Often, these beliefs about the world are misapprehensions, and they prevent us from seeing what is. Instead, we see only our clouded beliefs and opinions. When those clouds clear, we come to see that the world simply exists; things just are.
With the practice of yoga we can learn when to “dismount.” We create space between what is and our own feelings, and find clarity in that process of discernment. The principle of reducing unclear thinking is not about being emotionless and dispassionate, but rather learning to clear the cobwebs of habit and fear long enough to take the next mindful step.
A simple practice for clear seeing is a meditation exercise called “There is…” You can do this anywhere, while doing anything. Close your eyes [editor: if you safely can] and acknowledge all the things you are currently experiencing with this phrase: “There is a cool breeze. There is apprehension. There is a dog barking.” Anything you sense, feel, or think — point to it with the phrase, “There is…” By erasing the personal pronoun “I” or “me” from what we perceive, we instantly give permission for the world to be the way it is and not just the way we think it should be.
We struggle in life because of a tenacious habit of wanting life to be different from what it is: The room you are in is too warm, you don’t like your job, or your partner isn’t quite the person of your dreams. You adjust the thermostat, get a new job, or tell your partner what you need. Now it’s too cool, you are earning less money, or your partner has found some flaws in you. The more we try to make life conform to our desires, the more we struggle, and the more we suffer. The only way out of this vicious cycle is to accept what arises, completely…
Paradoxically, such radical acceptance opens a way of living that we could hardly have imagined.
A true friend doesn’t care when you’re broke, being a bitch, what you weigh, if your house is a mess, what you drive, about your past, or if your family is filled with crazy people. Your conversations pick up where they left off, even if they have been months apart. They love you for who you are. Re-blog if you have at least one true friend. They will know who they are.