Life happens. People share space, relationships, experiences. People make mistakes. Like many others I have spent much of my life comparing myself to others and not enough accepting myself as I am. I forget to accept others as they are too. The lack of self-acceptance has more than once turned into an unbearable agony. I like to think this is part of the human condition and that we have all felt this way; agonized by the pain of human being. Downtrodden in the dimmed vibrations of the heart comparing ourselves to the world around us. – Dimmed vibrations in the heart eventually turn into bitter tastes in the mouth. Bitter about life, bitter about others, cynical, jealous, and angry.
Yoga invites us to integrate all aspects of our being. Perpetually beating ourselves up does not free us to connect to our essence it only creates more bitterness and a wall of un-acceptance. And while we might all be suffering the human condition we are not condemned by our desire to forget the experiences of our past which were painful or turned us bitter, rather they are an invitation back into the heart.
In yoga philosophy, the first precept of being with others is to practice Ahimsa (non-violence, or loving-kindness). We must first know how to practice this teaching with ourselves to practice it with others. While you may want to forget the painful experiences of your past and present, they are parts of you, and to love yourself anyways, in the company of your bitterness, cynicism, jealousy, and anger is to truly connect to yourself. Self-love at this level has a domino effect. The more accepting we become of ourselves the more accepting we become of others; the more we can be in anyone’s company and connect. It does not matter what it is that we felt was unlovable, yoga invites us to trust the process through disciplined practice. Trusting the process and being disciplined with the practice enables us to forgive and to love ourselves, and our awareness is the bridge to that love.
Through awareness we remember that everyone and everything come from, and return to, the same essence. Through awareness we are reminded that all hearts yearn to know true joy and peace. Through awareness we can take the time to consider that all people who love will suffer heartbreak and that people everywhere experience hardships regularly, such consideration inevitably leads to compassion and empathy. Awareness creates the change in perspective that pulls us out of bitter-minded states, states that generate hate and distrust, and catapults us into the spaciousness of spirit; a spaciousness as extensive and diverse as life in the universe.
When we expand our awareness to remember what we share before recalling our bitterness, any fight to be right or maintain separation dissipates. When the fight dissipates, a quiet peace fills the space ego and bitterness used to occupy. In the quite something new arises and friendliness becomes forthcoming. Friendliness toward self and others. That friendliness turns into acceptance, tolerance, contentment, and love.
When I was younger I would not have believed that bitter feelings were an invitation back into the heart. I do now. Not because love instantly washes away the past, but rather, because love sweetens the bitterness of the things in life that cannot be controlled by inviting us to accept them and move on with an open heart.
With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving, in Joy,