There are people I don't like. I know some of these people. I don't know others. Some of them are just kinds of people. I might not be a fan of these individuals because of things they do or things they've done. They may have done these things to me or to my loved ones. There are other people, groups of them, I don't like because of the things they believe in or the way they act toward the world.
This is judgement. We've all said, "Far be it for me to judge, but..." There's always a but. The sentence rarely ends before the but. So, in actuality, we're judging. And that's not very cool.
We think about these people a lot. We talk about them often. There are several reasons why. It makes us feel better to talk about people who we feel are beneath us. If we can set ourselves apart from that person or that group of people, we feel better about ourselves. It's comforting to feel unique in what is such a vast, overpopulated society. Life seems to make more sense if we feel like an individual.
In the yogic belief system, this is an illusion. This is the ego taking over. This is that little proud voice inside of us that tells us that we're better, bigger, faster, smarter and destined for a better future than others. This isn't reality. We are, in a subtle, but very real way, all connected. Everything you do affects something or someone, or both. Every action and thought has an effect. Every time you think of that friend or ex or enemy who did you wrong, every iota of energy that you give to that person, place or thing has an impact. Not just on the world around you, but also (and mostly) yourself.
I'm going to go out on a limb here. It is possible to love everybody. It really is. Even that person who ran over your pet. Broke your heart. Stole your car. Gave you an STD. Cheated on you. Lied to you. Killed your brother. Mass murdered an entire group of people on September 11, 2001. Many of you might stop reading here. And that's okay. Come back when you're ready. No judgement.
At the start of many yoga classes, the teacher will ask the students to sit in a comfortable seated position with eyes closed. After a few deep breaths and mental excursions into being in the moment, the teacher will encourage the class to pick something to which they will dedicate their practice. This can be a person, an idea, a goal, anything. In most cases, this will be someone or something that the practitioner feels needs attention. I often dedicate my practice to a friend or loved one who is struggling with something. Other times I offer it up to the not-so-simple idea of eternal contentment.
It is thought that when one becomes a more proficient yogi, that your practice should be dedicated to something or someone you have ill will toward. In essence, I would be dedicating my practice to some jerk I don't like because of whatever he or she did. Mind you, one should not be dedicating this practice to the destruction of anything good in this person's life. That would not be very yogic. At all. Instead, the student is asked to send them all of that love and warmth he or she would send to loved ones.
Does your stomach drop at the thought of doing that? Maybe a little bit? I mean, if I'm not supposed to waste energy on negative thoughts toward these people and things, can't I just not send them anything? Can't I just leave it alone? Give them nothing?
Nope. You gotta love 'em.
This will be my first attempt at offering a yoga meditation exercise in this blog. If you're feeling open, read this and give it a go. In fact, if you're feeling closed, you should definitely try this, because it will probably remove a lot of blocks. That's how it works for me.
Find a comfortable position. Seated or lying down. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Listen to the way your breath sounds. Feel the rise and fall of all sides of your body as the air fills you and leaves you. Once you feel relaxed and ready, think of someone or something you don't like. Whatever pops in first will do. Don't be too grand, just let it pop in. Your finances, a mean person, a bad friend, a lousy driver, an annoying co-worker. Whatever. Now, think of all the things you don't like about this person, idea, place or thing. Let them in. How has your breathing changed? Has your heart rate increased? Is your brow furrowed? Do you want to shake your head, get up from where you are and busy yourself? Just watch these things. Feel them. Observe. Now, take these things and put them in a mental box. Wrap this box and put it on your lap. Grab it and hold it in your arms. Now, love it. Love it because it needs love. Love it because love is so much easier than hate. To quote a book/movie I adore, "Send them light and love. And drop it." What do you feel like now? Asses your physical body. Your breathing. Your heart rate. Don't judge it. Just observe.
When you're ready, slowly blink open your eyes and take a deep breath.
How do you feel? I always feel better. I hope you do too.