William P Young, author of The Shack, was on Oprah XM radio the other day talking about Relationship, and the fact that relationship will hurt us more than anything else in this world, but that through relationship we would also discover the healing we needed. I was moved, because I know this to be true in my own life and was able to be a witness to this phenomenon just this morning with my children… As I was sitting at breakfast with them… Brenna (The 4 year old) was pointing her finger in Teaghan’s (The 1 year old), face. Teaghan was smacking her hand away in defense when suddenly she realized that Brenna had a bandage on her finger, symbolizing an “owie”. She stopped defending herself and leaned over to kiss the bandage on her sister’s finger. Instantly, the progressively worsening situation transformed from frustration and anger, into a peaceful moment, and love.
What a great opportunity we have as yogis and yoginis, to take this awareness into action in our world through the practice of yoga. Remembering first, that the back bending we do on our mats is not simply for us to look prettier and more youthful, but to cultivate the quality of compassion in our lives. I have always had a flexible spine and compassionate heart. I am grateful that I was able to realize from a young age that people wanting to cause pain are the ones in pain, and they are just reaching out for help from a place of that pain. I may have taken this ideal to an extreme, as I have often daydreamed that if I was ever in a situation where I was afflicted with an act of violence, I could tap in to the perpetrator’s pain, we would talk, and there would be an opportunity for healing. Yes this scenario is extremely naïve but, I believe, there is truth in it.
About 8 years ago I was accompanying my sister to a building in a fairly bad neighborhood downtown. Why she chose me as her protector, I have no idea. As we entered the building there were some young boys harassing us on the steps, so I turned to them and said in a slightly whiny voice. “Well(pause) why aren’t you very nice to girls.” And then turned and walked away. My sister’s face had a look something between horror and amusement. This story often comes up as entertainment during our family gatherings, but the part that they forget to include is that the young man did actually feel bad, followed us inside, and in “his own way” apologized. I smiled, felt compassion for him, and all was ok. Except for my sister’s embarrassment of having such a dorky older sibling.
Swami Satchidanana says that a happy face is a reflection of our happiness, a sad face a reflection of our sorrow. Therefore relationship must begin with us.
My Grandmother, who most of my family thinks is crazy because she walks around talking to God all day, once told me during one of her conversations with God she heard just one word…RELATIONSHIP.
William P Young talks about the importance of relationship in our lives, and in healing what is in our Shacks.
Yoga means relationship.
For many years I was reckless with the idea of relationship. The idea of relationship with myself, my loved ones, the environment, and God, seemed impossible, even, at times, terrifying. Through the practice of yoga I started nurturing the relationship with myself, and I healed, then I was strong enough to nurture relationships with others and we healed each other.
As I think about my one year old peacemaker, recognizing her sister’s wound, and turning violence into peace with just a kiss, I wonder how far can we, when united, take this concept into our world. I think of how powerful we are together and it gives me hope. Hope for changing the mess we have made with our societal need for wealth and beauty, hope for the mess we’ve made in our friendships and romances, and hope for the mess we have made of our environment. We can start small by being a little kinder to ourselves next time we can’t reach our toes in paschimottanasana (seated forward bend), or pausing to acknowledge the pain of another before lashing out defensively. We can choose to get involved in helping the planet, and stop making excuses. Most importantly we can always be mindful of moving from a place in our hearts, and trust in the truth of love that comes from a kiss of compassion.