The Creative Coast’s blogspot is Savannah’s sounding board for local thinkers, innovators, wanderers and wonderers. Guest bloggers share their thoughts, opinions and creative noodling from all over the map. This week’s blog is from Kate Taylor, Savannah’s deep thinking contortionist and a really relaxed entrepreneur. Read on for Kate’s advice on how to be a big ripple….
I teach yoga. That means I am vegetarian, never drink alcohol, and am always able to cultivate equanimity in the face of adversity. Ummmm…not exactly. My yoga students are sometimes surprised when they run into me at a restaurant and see a steak on my plate and a glass of wine in my hand.
I was a vegetarian at one point and I will periodically stop drinking alcohol. As far as equanimity, that’s an ongoing process, and the hardest part of all.
Equanimity is the state of non-reaction, the ability to remain calm in the face of adversity and emotion. The Greek Stoics practiced it. Buddhists practice it. I am working on it with the help of my yoga practice.
When things happen in our lives our first impulse is to react. When we get cut off by the jerk in the Lexus or the person in front of us at the grocery store wants to use 50 coupons and hasn’t yet sorted them out or when a close friend does something hurtful, we want to take action and express our frustration. We can yell obscenities at the guy in the Lexus and maybe even shoot him the bird. We can take the bait and pick a fight with our friend. All this does, though, is stir up negative energy within ourselves. Then you go in to work and tell somebody else about what your friend did. Then that person gets to agree with you and share the negative mojo. And so on, and so on, the circle of anger ripples out.
What if we could just hit pause and see things as they really are? Maybe the guy in the Lexus had a sick child in the back seat and was rushing to the hospital. We don’t know. What we do have control over is our reaction. We can choose to pause and wish him safe passage or simply let it pass without stealing our energy.
Every time I get on my yoga mat to practice I am faced with adversity. The person next to me is breathing more loudly than I want them to. Somebody comes in late and makes a fuss setting up their mat. My body is resisting the postures. In those moments I have an opportunity to create a new pattern of being. A way of being that is a witness to my thoughts but chooses not to react. I can feel compassion for the heavy breather considering that maybe he had a hard day and is on his mat to get the toxic stuff out! The person who rushed in late may need this yoga class to help them deal with caring for a dying parent.
The practice of yoga for me is about learning to be a witness to myself and interrupt the automatic response and become more conscious and deliberate about my way of being. Like any form of physical exercise, the yoga of the mind requires consistent practice to build the mental and spiritual muscles to move through life with greater ease.
Today, as you move through the world, try to simply be a witness and hit pause before you react. Then choose a reaction that will ripple something good into the world.