Most often, people tell me they’d like to start taking ballet so that they can develop physical grace. In the same respect, when people first come to yoga its often because they want peace. It’s sometimes frustrating for people who were looking for the super store solution to their need for grace and peace to learn that stepping through the door does not instantly guarantee them what they’re seeking. Just as there is a gradual path to that peace through the practice of consistently meeting our edges and learning to breathe through them in yoga, outer grace often only comes through the development of thick skin and callused feet.
In our discussions about Compassion this month, we’ve reached a point where we need to get real about what it ultimately comes down to: we have a choice, in each moment, to either act with compassion for ourselves and others…or not. It’s that simple…and it’s not really simple at all. We can’t do much of anything in this world without a little commitment in our hearts. Because things get hard, they get tricky, they get confrontational. And, honestly, they get really easy to drop and walk far away from. So when we’re talking about something as important as Compassion, it’s pretty important that we go ahead and commit to loving ourselves and others…even when it’s hard…especially when it’s hard.
Just like in yoga and ballet…if we really want to cultivate healthy, robust amounts of peace and grace, we need commit to the pursuit first and foremost and trust that someday it will all feel a little easier. Fortunately, whether we’re talking peace, grace, or compassion; there are steps to follow and practice to help us find our way until those movements, decisions, and mindsets flow more naturally.
In yoga, we come to our mats and meet our deep demons head on in asana. By cultivating inner and outer strength, we learn to breathe into discomfort and become quiet, watchful observers of our own minds. The work we do unites our bodies, minds, and souls and this unity is what offers us peace. It takes practice, and we need to choose it continuously, but ultimately it teaches us about peace…real peace. In ballet, we come to the barre and repeat exercises again and again, developing strength and form. Having to work at something so hard without giving up requires us to pour grace all over ourselves. And all that grace we’ve poured over ourselves while working on our technique eventually begins to emanate physically. It takes practice, and we need to choose it continuously, but ultimately it teaches us about grace…real grace.
When we’re talking compassion, we show up for life fully aware of our own hurts and baggage, we remain light and openhearted, we recognize our shared humanity, and we give ourselves and others compassion. It takes practice, and we need to choose it continuously, but ultimately it teaches us about compassion…real compassion.
There’s a common thread here that is crucial to point out. These values flow out of us more organically once have begun to master the cultivation of them within our own selves. Peace, grace, compassion…we need to offer them to ourselves continually and in abundance in order for us to truly be able to see their presence in our outer lives. The more peace we can cultivate within, the more we find in our outer worlds. The more grace we allow ourselves, the more graceful we become and the more grace we are able to offer others. And the more compassion we bestow upon ourselves, the easier it is to give compassion to others. Our outer lives are but a mirror of what is at play within us.
There is no easy acquisition of any aspirational value. It takes continual commitment and continual practice. But there are some things in life that are too important to drop and walk away from and therefore we need to commit wholeheartedly to the practice of growing them.
May we be conscious choosers of all that is required to become our best, most compassionate selves.