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Occasional musings of Yoga, Life & Parenting

THE POWER OF COMPASSION & NON-JUDGEMENT IN YOGA & INTO LIFE

3rd November 2019

It all begins with oneself. Have you ever done anything you have been so ashamed of, so embarassed about, you wondered how to carry on? How to get up and walk around in society & function again? Perhaps you never did anything, but for some reason you haven’t been able to pinpoint, you wake one morning clouded by the energy of self judgement. Or perhaps you found yourself in a situation that you had no control over, and then had judgements about it - why did this happen to me, why did I end up in this place? It could even be possible that you found yourself judged by others for some reason, and then went on to internalise that judgement. Whatever the outer circumstances, or how they might appear to us, or rather to our minds, the feeling is the same. Hardening in the head, closing down in the heart, telling oneself off or putting oneself down, this should not have happened to me, I am better than this, how embarrassing, I will never be able to show my face again. They will never want to know me, let alone be friends with me, or work with me. I am a failure.

And even worse if those messages one gives to oneself are then reinforced by the judgements of others, possibly even on an ongoing basis. This is sadly the case for some people. Perhaps for people with disabilities, whether they are immediately visible or not, or perhaps disclosed verbally. If witnessed by someone who lacks the understanding of how to live with a certain condition of limitation, whether of body, mind or even spirit, it is highly likely that judgement can creep in and cast its smell over the whole interaction and relationship. Beauty can turn sour just from a few misjudged opinions in the mind.

We all have limitations, it is a part of the human condition. Every one of us including some of the greatest world leaders and even spiritual teachers. It is the work for each one of us to look closely at our limitations and acknowledge them from a place of non-judgement. I, personally, was born small and will never be more than 5 feet tall. I will never reach to put a basketball straight into the net nor will I reach the cereal from the top shelf in the supermarket. Of course, such a limitation has its plus side - I have always been skilled at getting to the front in a crowd and always had quite a bit of fun sitting on shoulders and being thrown around by friends. I suppose, if I think back, I have been ridiculed from time to time, and I have had some issues I guess related so size. Sometimes I still notice it, but it doesn’t get a lot of my attention these days. But overall I wouldn’t change it, it’s the body I was given and it’s one aspect of my expression, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse. It has been a blessing in teaching me how to navigate the world through a small frame and more importantly how to cope in physically challenging or even threatening situations where I cannot rely on my size in the way that somebody stronger and taller might be able to. I know that my body does not define me any more than my qualifications or my accent. It is a vehicle through which I can express & experience, & furthermore it is fully a divine creation which has been entrusted to me to take care of in full awareness of this divinity.

If we can start to cultivate more acceptance towards ourselves, the consequences will start to spill out into our views of others. These kinds of words are becoming more commonplace now, with Yoga and Mindfulness now practises becoming increasingly familiar. However are we practising from a place of non-judgement, both on and off the mat, or are we just striving to complete another yoga series or master another pose? I’ve been considering my integrity as a Yoga Teacher, as I am aware there are parts of my life that don’t fit the ‘normal’ template - parenting is sometimes a struggle, & doesn’t flow always as well as a nice vinyasa sequence in a heated room. Am I going to judge myself for the difficult days when I am so tired it’s hard to get through the day let alone be gentle, loving and a good playmate? And how am I going to improve as a mother without casting judgement and making resoutions? More and more as I bring my yoga into my parenting, I have to breathe, breathe and breathe, and let go, let go, let go, of the things I feel I should be doing, and just be present with my little girl. Something in me doesn’t want to change to flow in line with how life is manifesting now right before my very eyes. But if Yoga is true peace and equanimity, then all I can do is be in the needs of the present moment - whether that is helping someone lengthen their spine in Trikonasana or be on call to help wipe a dirty pre-school bottom. I guess the boundaries of what is Yoga need to soften somewhat.

More importantly, most importantly, I reflect on my past and the challenges I have lived through. And despite the healing passage of time, and my ongoing daily practise of acceptance, viewing everything I have experienced as a great blessing and Divine teacher, I still come across the weeds of self-judgement within my heart, and thankfully upon seeing them they begin to vanish. How great is the power of awareness, shined upon unconsciousness, to root out whatever is not truly serving us. And then when another patch of my heart field is cleared, I can move through into life, in my various roles as a teacher, as a mother, with even greater acceptance and lack of judgement. As within, so without, the perfect testimony to unity of the One, whether we are fully aware of it or not.

The more this happens, the more I bow down at the feet of what has gone before, my losses & their aftermath. What a blessing, to witness the beauty that can shine from wounds that have germinated. I think part of me used to think that wisdom meant I would be able to predict my future and everyone else’s. Now I think it has something to do with this. Yes, it’s learning from one’s mistakes, but more importantly, being able to serve others from that understanding - so that you might meet them from a place of non-judgement. For some people, you will be a rare person to meet, and a glimmer of hope. And somehow for me, that makes it all worthwhile.

The interesting part of it is that it is an ongoing practise. I wish I could say that the judgement that I experience from others was over. But I can’t. And furthermore there are still parts of me that want to be completely free of it - despite knowing it as a blessing. I guess that’s my human side, my ego wanting to do its own thing and of course just be perfect little me again. But all I can do is keep coming back to myself - to my own self judgement, looking and seeing what remains, rooting out the weeds of judgement and non-acceptance within. And the rest does itself, only from the light of one’s own clarity can one view another with lack of judgement and acceptance. After all, if it can be rooted out, then we cannot be it, we can only be the light we shine on it. Part of me can see this is difficult work - but I guess I was never meant to be a landscape gardener - I was blessed with the life I have lived in order to clear the internal space of my heart - and hopefully show others to do the same. It’s not an easy task, I do seem to get scratched and bruised along the way, and dig up all sorts of unwanted trash along with the treasure. I guess maybe I should refer to the map a little bit more in that way.

Thank you Kali for giving me the passion to see through my dark tendencies and bringing them into the light of my own seeing.

OM KRING KALIKAYE NAMAH