by columnist Gabrielle Harris, The Suburban Yogini
Whenever I pick my son up from school I glimpse the little sign on the gate:
What did you learn today?
Life is one big yogic experiment offering us plenty of lessons to grow and learn from daily. The trick is to be aware of what we learn and then put that lesson into action.
For the really slow learners like me, the lessons are presented over and over again in different forms. I’m Vata, according to the Ayurvedic* health system. We learn things very quickly then promptly forget them.
Here are some of the lessons that I have learnt in my short time of studying yoga off the mat.
The person who cut in front of you at the roundabout at 1000 miles per hour was not trying to kill you or annoy you. They were just in a hurry and possibly had some medical emergency like diarrhoea or were about to give birth. If you are annoyed then you have chosen to be like that.
Instead imagine if you had a medical emergency like diarrhoea or child birth and think how fast you would drive? Our car is our #1 yogic laboratory. We can learn everything we need about ourselves and others by just being observant and taking time before we react. Another place is the queue at the post office. In fact, you can take your ‘yoga’ practice with you into any kind of situation.
Suffering is optional. - Buddha.
Our children are Zen masters sent from our own DNA to push every button you ever had (and watch how you react). Their logic is infuriating and their insistence at getting what they want is frustrating. They hold a mirror up to us and our behaviour.
Just the other day my 6 year old wanted to go biking. I wanted to do yoga. We went biking. Fifteen minutes into it he decided ‘biking is boring and I want to go home’. We were a long way from home. It’s at this annoying stage you can choose to add a bit of suffering to the trip or get on the bike that’s too small for you and ride it. Choose option #2, it’s funnier.
Shopping or chocolate doesn’t make you happy. Well ….studies show it does for about 3 seconds then you are plunged back into misery until your next bit of chocolate or credit card blowout. What makes you happy are these things; Giving generously, being part of the community, loving people, being active and trying something new. Backbends also help.
People are idiots because they don’t see things the same way as you. I would like to think this is correct because I’m so enlightened however the older I get the more I see that I’m probably suffering from the age old yogi problem of Avidya (not seeing clearly). My teacher once said to me
Why do you want the world to see things the way you do?
I thought that was a bit of a stupid question as the obvious answer is
Because it would be a lot easier.
Practice seeing things from someone else’s view today and see what change comes about. You could start with me first if you liked.
My religion is kindness. - the Dalai Lama.
Be kind to everyone and everything. The law of karma suggests that everything we do and think gets stored as karma to be used in the next life. The theory of Karma is a fundamental doctrine in Buddhism. The easiest thing is to just be nice to everyone including the check out operator, cleaner, parking warden and small helpless insects.
If you are not nice to one of these then you might just come back as one of them in your next life, i.e. a parking warden or an ant.