My favourite word of the moment, 'responding'. In yoga we learn the skill of witnessing and often that slips over from the practise into noticing when we are about to react in our usual ways, whether that's screaming at our partner or falling into self-critical inner chat. Finding the witness means just sitting with (on) that reaction.
If it's hard on the yoga mat to witness thoughts – suddenly we realise we've been lost for the whole of triangle in yesterday's stuff (though we know all about the breath) - then it's harder in life, when it's not just us, but the combination of our stuff and other people's stuff! What to do?
Well the breath, as we know, creates an automatic pause and allows us to feel what's going on, and maybe where it might be coming from. But what comes after witnessing. Can we step into our heart space, or however we find our centre (more breath), and let go of the reaction? If we can't right now, we can always wait. Not procrastinate, but wait. More breath…
Sometimes witnessing becomes saying or doing nothing - because we're ‘yogis’ right, and shouldn't get fierce? As Krishna says in the Gita (I'm paraphrasing), if we are consciously not acting, we are still acting (and creating karma).
This in fact might be our pattern. Of stifling, being obliging; it's much quieter and less obvious than a fiery outburst, but it still creates inner tension that has to express itself somewhere and somehow, some(life)time. So sitting with it is great, but if it still feels strong that something needs to be done or said, then respond. Truth is also fire! Fire purifies.
Responding comes from the heart, in the present. Reacting comes from the past. Staying in the heart is hugely powerful because it connects us to courage; it aligns our actions with our truth.
Here I offer my favourite mantra of the moment: 'Aham idam' (I am, I do). I believe I am 'that' but I also navigate through the world, as that. This is a beautiful teaching of tantra.
When something has been our pattern for so long, it will be an exploration to shift it; maybe we'll blast a few ears and surprise a few people as we explore our honesty. But if we're not responding, we may be equally unable to ‘let go’. And those who love us will only love us more when we grow.