Last week, I was able to study with my Senior Teacher, Yogarupa. Through the medium of zoom, we engaged in a series of asana, pranayama, contemplative, and meditation exercise. The goals: (1) To begin to gain a better understanding of the things that block us from experiencing the light of our own hearts and (2) acquiring a set of tools that we can use in order to undo some of those blockages.
This type of work – although perhaps esoteric – has always been something that has called to me. So much so that when this training was announced last year, I immediate signed up. My thought process was that I wanted to dissolve the blockages within me so that I could heal and go on with my life. (In hindsight, it is pretty apparent that I was expecting a miracle. That there was a part of me that hoped, or rather expected, that my senior teacher would say something and magically everything that has been weighing on me for weeks, months, or years would instantaneously vanish. Poor guy! Like many that I look up to, the expectations that I placed on him were unreasonable.)
Interestingly enough, this self-revelation serves as the basis of today’s dharma talk. Specifically, while engaged in last week’s different practices, I found myself becoming hyper critical of what was going on. My internal chatter was judging my teacher. It was judging the model he’d selected to demonstrate certain practices. It was judging the experience I was having and how it wasn’t what I had signed up for. Long story short: my internal chatter had something to say about everything!
About half way through one of these practices – coincidentally enough, based upon the veil of judgment – I realized that I was so consumed with criticism that I was missing out on the cues he was providing. I was missing out on the opportunity to connect with each shape and the sensations it produced in my body. I was missing out on the transformative effect the breath has on my mind. In short, I was so busy being judgy that I was missing out on life – my life!
The awareness that this was going on immediately drew me to stillness as I had to write down that observation. Since then I have Noticed the following:
(1) I judge others as a means to make myself feel better. (That is, by inflicting criticism, i.e. pain, on another, I can ignore my own pain.)
(2) Most of the things that I think or say about someone else are criticisms I have of myself. (projection anyone??)
(3) I tend to judge life because a part of me that feels it must control things in order to feel safe.
The solution, as presented by my teacher during our first day of training, is ironically enough to cultivate a greater sense of self-compassion.
To that end, the question that I have for you, the one that I am working to answer for myself is this: How can you begin to be nicer and more compassionate towards yourself? How can you use the instances in which you label something as “good” or “bad,” “acceptable” or “unacceptable,” as opportunities to see that you may be needing a bit of safety, security, love, or reassurance? In short, how can you take better care of you, so that you don’t feel the need to judge life, and in doing so miss out on the opportunity to fully experience life.
At the moment, I don’t have any quick fixes. I do however, want to share the following quote by Author Michael Singer:
“The natural unfolding of the process of life can create and take away the entire universe. Is it really reasonable for us to assume that nothing good will happen unless we force it to?” Michael Singer