As a yoga teacher I ‘preach’ a lot and trough sharing my thoughts I try to inspire people daily. Not to think like me, but to think - to think for themselves, to think out of the box. I share my thoughts in classes, blogs and on social media, and those of you who know me personally or follow my blogs and social media posts, know that I am more passionate about some topics than others. These include freedom (from fear and control), love (as the cure for all the ills), and compassion for all sentient beings.
Love, freedom, compassion; topics easy to discuss from the safety and comfort of my life; my cozy yoga sangha, my safe home, or some beautiful destination I choose to explore. But what happens when things get uncomfortable, unsafe? Do I still walk the talk?
It’s a good question for teachers of any spiritual discipline or anyone whom people trust and look to for answers or inspiration. Do we preach peace, love and understanding only when it is easy, comfortable and convenient? Or do we stand tall and firm in the same believes when the storm comes and makes a mess of things. When life gives us lemons do we make a lemonade and chant shanti, shanti or do we become bitter and angry?
Actually, It’s a great question for all of us.
The thing is, we don't know how we're going to react when things that trigger fear happen to us or to someone we love. With fear comes judgement, judgement is followed by hate. This is a perfect formula used for ages to control the masses. This is how the wars are fought. It had worked in the past, and it works just as well today. Fear – judgement – hate. When you look at the world today do you see freedom, compassion and love or do you see fear judgment and hate? Our actions, words and thoughts are energy, and our collective vibrations add up and tip the scale; one way or the other. Which way your actions tip the scale?
Our everyday lives are full of challenges, and challenges are chances to see how we react, from what space, and with what intention. Little triggers happen every day; In traffic, at work, anywhere really. How do you react when someone rubs you the wrong way? Bigger triggers happen sometimes and these are even greater opportunities to see how we react when we feel unsafe and attacked. When the fear kicks in and we lose the ability to pretend.
I had one of these moments a few days ago. Seeta, my dog, was attacked and almost killed by another dog. A staff terrier twice her size and off the leash grabbed her by her neck and wouldn’t let go. Midday on a busy street. I thought she was gone. After what seemed forever, somebody poured some water over staff’s head, and she let go. I took Seeta to a shop across to stop the bleeding, check the wounds and calm myself down. She was calm as she was in shock. The fear and the stress I felt was something I, thankfully, don’t experience often in my comfortable life. Dog’s owner came in after us, stressed himself, apologizing, saying this had never happen before. The lady in the shop wanted to call the police. I said no. At that moment I wasn’t sure he was telling the truth, but I made a choice. I saw the fear and regret in his eyes, fear for his dog; if I wanted to I could have had him put down, regret that he wasn’t more careful.
Fear – judgment – hate. When things like this happen, we are so quick to judge, we get angry, we seek revenge. Often not knowing the whole truth. Often judging only by what we see at the moment. And what I saw wasn't a pretty sight. Staff looked all scared, like she fights all the time. People around me were saying I should have called the police, pressed charges. Because, what if the dog does that again? What if she kills someone next time? What if, next time, she attacks a child? What if, what if… What if makes us lock our doors, see our neighbors as enemies, build walls. Fear, judgment, hate.
I made a choice and chose freedom over fear, compassion over judgment, love over hate.
He could have also been quick to judge me. He could have taken his dog and left, I would have never found him. But he didn’t. He took me to the vet, stayed with me during the surgery, paid for everything. We were just two human beings caught up in a horrible incident trying to make the best out of it. He thanked me countless times for my reaction. I thought that was odd. I was just happy Seeta was going to be fine and his dog is safe. I know he will be more careful from now on and now, having more information, I know he was telling the truth. But now, after sharing the story and talking to my friends, I also know what he meant. He thanked me for choosing to believe instead of 'what if'.
I am content because I know that yesterday I walked the talk so today I can sit in my comfortable bed with Seeta next to me and write these words from an honest place: I would rather be free from fear, be compassionate, act from love and be wrong than be quick to judge, succumb to fear, and act out of bitterness and hate.
Love really is the cure for all the ills of mankind.