Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but the message of the day is never-ending: Love and kindness (okay chocolate, cards, gourmet dinners, lingerie, and flowers too!) Fear not, I am not going to get mushy- I am simply offering you another opportunity to stay calm and centered throughout your day.
Think about the last time you felt annoyed or put off by another. When have you avoided someone or judged them? If you are human, you have come up with a few instances. If not, I venture to say, you are in denial- I invite you to dig a bit deeper.
In yoga class they end with the word Namaste. It means, “I acknowledge and bow to the divine within you.” When we realize we are not separate from another, it is easier to treat them with kindness. Namaste includes yourself as well. You must first acknowledge the divine in yourself, so you can reap the benefits of this powerful practice.
In his book, Heal Thy Self, Saki Santorelli; director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center, comments on the greeting ofNamaste: “I believe that the active remembrance of this reality is crucial to our lives, our work, and our well‐being.” He says: “Our willingness to relate with another in this way is fundamentally healing.”
I am not suggesting that you say Namaste to all you pass (although it would get some entertaining responses!) I am inviting you to begin to cultivate love and kindness in your day, especially when you are not feeling loving or kind. This practice if not for the other person, it is for you. It gives you the ability to be free from the tension produced by judgement and avoidance. Give the following practice a try:
- When you are in the presence of someone you already care about, look beyond your relationship and see the divine within them.
- When you are interacting with a stranger, be present with them and see if you can see beyond who you think they are, and look for the divine within them. It helps to make eye contact.
- This one is the most challenging: The next time you pass someone that you find distasteful and want to avoid, understand that they too are human. If your first reaction is to turn away, look at them and as you do this, look beyond the externals. Acknowledge them in some way- make eye contact, a nod, a smile, and realize they too are divine.
Be gentle with yourself- this is a lifelong practice. Every day there will be new opportunities to deepen your connection to yourself and those around you. Why not start today?