I think as humans it’s very natural to want to feel appreciated. It satisfies us at some level. I hear this from my husband often, and I am sure I have expressed the need to feel appreciated by him as well. Last week, I had an insightful moment with my husband, a.k.a Herbie. He came to me and said “You know this whole time I have been telling you that what I need is appreciation. I realize that that’s not it at all, what I need is your empathy.” Right there I stopped and I looked at him and almost immediately I softened. He was speaking to my ability to feel so connected with him that I can have a sense of what it feels like to be in his shoes. This was really powerful.
Appreciation may satisfy the ego, but it does not necessarily speak to the heart. I may be able to praise you, but that does not mean that I feel for you. We all have this innate desire to want to feel more connected and less separate. The more we allow ourselves to live in an empathic way both toward ourselves and others, the more we realize that we aren’t these independent beings. We are interdependent. We are connected. What I do and say affects not only me, but those around me as well. Part of this yoga is to realize this quality of union, to be able to shed the barriers that we put up to protect us, whether it’s from a person, a painful experience or even a difficult emotion. Yoga calls us to broaden our field of experience so that we can compassionately and empathically include everything and everyone; both the people and the experiences that challenge us, and those that bring us ease.
Empathy comes from a place of love. It resides in our hearts even when we don’t believe we have the capacity. Empathy is what will bring us together, rather than apart. It teaches us to not judge, but to know that this is all a part of the human experience and a part of each and every one of us. So when we run away from that person who seems frustrated, petty or resentful, we run away from that very part of our own nature. To embrace experience and the nature of others requires that we do the same exact thing for ourselves.
I want to end this post by expressing deep gratitude for Herbie. I love the journey we are on and I continue to look forward to where it takes us.