The practice of correcting behavior

We all have light to share. It takes one candle to illuminate a dark room. Let’s be candles together and see what happens.

Dear friend, thank you for being here.

And now, a question.

Do you, like many, feel that everything is a little too much these days?

While I’m never sure what’s weird or normal, I recently read an article that details a host of unfortunate realities around us these days. The article describes how so many people are conducting themselves without the kind of skills we learned young: don’t hit; don’t yell; don’t hurt anyone. You can have a look for yourself. (Or not. Honestly, aren’t we convinced there’s plenty of unhealthy food on the bad behavior buffet without pushing our faces into the rotting fruit on the table?)

What the article misses, and what is more important than the fact of poor behavior around us, is the choices we make to correct ourselves. Each of us. All of us. Our correction is for us... individually and together.

While it certainly sucks that some people may not be as kind as we'd like, this doesn’t excuse us from kindness. Nor does it give us license to be a fink. Instead, it can be our call to arms. And our weaponry, forgive me, is loving, compassionate, determined understanding. Or at the very least, quiet.

After all, when does it ever help when we amplify an already noisy situation? When does anger met with anger ever amount to peace? Martin Luther King, Jr. offers us this gem:

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

So how do we bring light into the darkness?

Here, my friend, we turn to a very old definition of yoga… the skillful harnessing of our attention to the choices we make.

So often, we don't think before we open our mouths. We don't stop to consider our options and whether one is more appropriate to the situation we're in. When we take a moment to become aware of who we are, where we are, how we are, and how we'd like to proceed, and then act accordingly, we become yogis. It isn't always easy and we're sure to stumble sometimes. Still, we try again. We turn the light of our awareness to the moment and choose wisely our best response.

We share the light through our appropriate actions. Even when we stumble, our humility will shed light.

Here are three simple ways to train our attention so we can become the light in a dark reality. All of them ask for your patience and courage because they take practice. The good news? Your patience and courage will grow as you practice. You will become more skillful. Your practice will inspire you to practice more. Your light will inspire others to remember their patience and courage.

1.      Sit like a mountain. While it may be challenging at first, choose to spend five minutes in the morning sitting quietly. Be as calm, steady, and present as a mountain. A mountain watches storms pass. We can be like this too. It’s nice to feel the earth beneath us and to feel its energy rising up in us, just like it rises into mountain peaks. When you practice sitting like a mountain in the stillness of the morning, you'll remember how to remain calm, steady, and present when a storm approaches and swirls around you later.
2.      Smile at your life. Although you may think that everything is too wild, we are so fortunate to spend our lives together. Choose to spend five minutes in the afternoon smiling softly at the following: the coming and going of your breath; the way we all breathe together; the feeling of the ground beneath your feet and how we all share this common ground. We have reason to smile at the sweetness of it all.
3.      Say thank you. Make it a habit to say thank you whenever you experience something beautiful. This may mean that you start thanking flowers and hummingbirds, trees and wandering clouds. They appreciate your attention. This may also mean that you start thanking your friends for thinking of you when they send you silly messages. Your friends will appreciate this too. This may mean that you start thanking yourself when you find a beautiful thought or gesture in yourself. Notice how nice it is to appreciate yourself for your beauty.

Each of these simple techniques will nourish and strengthen you. Of course, simple doesn’t mean easy. You'll have to remember to sit like a mountain and you'll have to do it often.

You'll forget to smile sometimes but that's okay. When you forget, smile. And then smile again.

Sometimes, you won't want to say thank you to a single thing. When that happens, say thank you to your resistance. Resistance is the best teacher because it shows us exactly where we can soften. And softening is a beautiful gesture. We can say thank you to resistance while we soften.

Please be gentle with yourself and know that your practice empowers all of us to see clearly. We'lll see ourselves, each other, the ways we hurt, and the impact of our choices.

We all have light to share. It takes one candle to illuminate a dark room. Let’s be candles together and see what happens.

Please let me know what you discover as the light grows. And if you’d like support, please send me a note. I’d love to hear from you.

Dear friend, thank you again. I'm always grateful we exist together.
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