In a recent yoga class, I talked about kindness as a theme for us both on and off our yoga mats. This idea was inspired by something I witnessed and then as I made my 2017 sankalpa.
The first event was an incident at a local super market on Xmas day. The lines were very long and very slow. After waiting in line for a painfully long time, a woman ahead of me had a meltdown. She started complaining loudly, stamping her feet, in other words having a full on temper tantrum.
Some people got very uncomfortable, looking around, avoiding all eye contact with the woman. Others chimed in with comments about how she should calm down and appreciate that the store was even open on Xmas at all. Their intention was good but clearly misplaced as it was obvious that their words were having the opposite effect: the more she was told to relax, the more agitated and aggravated she became.
So what to do? Talking to her wasn’t going to help. So I did the only thing I could think of: I started to breathe deeply. I focused on long inhales and long exhales, trying to exude calmness, patience, and kindness. It dawned on me that finding calm and peace on my yoga mat is wonderful, but being able to take that off the mat magnifies the feelings; what shows up is kindness. A type of kindness that makes me want to share it with others. As I stood there, finding my own calm breathing, holding onto and sharing kindness from inside, I was able to extend to this woman and to the rest of those in the store, waiting in line on Xmas day, patience and tenderness.
Later, as I thought about the whole experience I realized that sometimes it feels easier to extend patience and tender kindness to strangers. It made me think back to all the many times I am short tempered with my husband — sometimes for good reason, but mostly not. It doesn’t matter what provokes my emotional over reaction, the bottom line is that I don’t like this in myself and I don’t want to be this way with anyone, much less my dear husband. Overall I am a loving person and instead of beating myself up for the times I am not, I am connecting with the parts of myself that are patient, tender and kind. So my 2017 sankalpa is: In every encounter, I treat myself and others with kindness.
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