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Kindness of Heart

I often find myself saying the following in my classes.  “Encounter everything that arises with care and softness.”  As my husband would say, yoga is full of these simple, pithy phrases, all of which are extremely hard to put into practice.  Truth be told,  what I share in classes is precisely what I need to hear and be reminded of.  And kindness and compassion have been a recurring theme for me in this past year.

I have found that the moments where I feel aggravated and angry are exactly the moments where my yoga practice kicks in.  One of three scenarios tends to happen.  I feel aggravated and before I know it, I have acted out with the harshness that arose.  Often after steeping in the anger for some time, I see my behavior more clearly and it is there that I need to remember that I am on a path which is far from perfect.  I need to give myself room to be human and to continue onward.

The second scenario is similar in it’s outward actions, but different in the experience on the inside.  I feel the aggravation.  I have the capacity to see how it affects me, to witness it so to speak.  However, as human as I am, I continue to act out on my impulses rather than a more skillful response.  There too, there is the calling to relate to myself with care and kindness.

The third scenario is the one where some real big insights take place.  I see the aggravation.  I witness it.  I am fully aware of the harshness that arises within me.  Though tempted to act out, instead I let the harshness in and hold it softly.  At the same time, I begin to see the perceived source of my aggravation, perhaps someone.  I continue to notice as feelings and thoughts arise, persist and dissolve.  And then my awareness shifts to the person that I am interacting with, the person I blame for my aggression.  I begin to feel what they may feel.  I begin to imagine their discomfort and their pain.  I see that what they are saying or doing is not meant to cause my aggravation.  That is all my own doing.  They carry their own pain, their own stories.  This is empathy, to feel what another may be feeling.  To see past my own ego, my own stories.  And from here, it is inevitable for compassion to arise.  The hope to relieve the pain or discomfort of another.  These are the moments that melt me, where the harshness dissolves like snowflakes falling from the sky.  Yes, in order to move past the anger, I can’t just let it go.  I first have to really let it in.  I have to see my own aggressions with clarity.  I have to know it and feel it in the most intimate way possible when it arises, before I am drawn to believing it.

This is powerful stuff.  I know I will have many obstacles along the way, but yes, I do aspire to encounter everything that arises with softness.  That does not mean that skillful and firm action cannot be taken thereafter, but hopefully it will be one that is thoughtful and carried with kindness of heart.

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