Many moons ago I was a somewhat serious student of Yoga. I recall one particular class I was taking from a familiar teacher but in a new environment, thus, I didn’t know any of the other participants. As we began to get into our poses, I recall looking around at others to see how I was doing in comparison. My teacher, Lynn who knew me well, came over to adjust my posture and said with a kind but stern tone, “Keep your eyes on you own posture”. She added for the rest of the group a few lines about the importance of inward focus and that it was not helpful to let our eyes wander and compare out posture to the performance of others.
Yoga is the practice of holding poses to increase self-awareness. Its rewards include insights about how we trap energy rendering it helpless in facilitating own healing. Yoga teaches us how to become aware of those blocks and to apply release in very specific ways. It requires our attention.
Yoga is also a metaphor of the rest of what we do in life. How often I could use a “Lynn” around to remind me when I get dressed in the morning to not look around in my mind’s eye to see what I think other people will say about my clothing or my hair. I could benefit from someone who would refocus me when I start to think about how my writing may impact this person or that. She might say “Write what your heart tells you to write and don’t look around”.
I often notice that when I find myself discovering some juicy piece of information about another person and I go into judgment mode without thinking, a couple of things routinely result. First, I don’t feel very good about myself and second, I usually lose track of the information pretty quickly because in reality, it serves me no purpose. This doesn’t happen because I’m particularly enlightened, but the simple truth of the matter is that, when another person has done or not done something or anything, it really doesn’t have an impact on my life. If Susan gets an awful haircut, Susan has to look at it every day until it grows out; not me. If Pete wins the lottery, it’s unlikely he is going to share it with me so why should I spend time contemplating his advantages.
Even though we know this in our rational minds, more often than not we waste energy trying to anticipate how others are going to react to some aspect of us. Sadly, we allow those anticipatory thoughts to become rules that dictate our behavior. How unfortunate to make a decision to not allow ourselves an experience of joy because we feel someone else might have a reaction that, they will in all likelihood, either fail to notice or forget about moments after they do. How sad to expend enormous amounts of energy only to gain the same pointless outcome. How silly are we to make decisions of what to buy, eat, where, spend time based on others decisions, or worse still, our perception of their decisions.
Wayne Dyer said “If your voice was the only one you ever heard sing, you would think it was beautiful singing”. How unfortunate that it becomes less than beautiful because you hear someone else begin to carry a tune. Why must theirs be better instead of merely “not yours”?
For today consider practicing keeping your eye on only your own pose. See how much enjoyment you can get from looking at your own actions as the only ones on the stage with no one else to judge or compare them against.