21 Feb Spiritual Sandpaper
A few years in to my yoga journey, I was having a talk with my boys about my experience with yoga thus far. “I find that yoga has helped me get stronger and softer, too.” Fully anticipating that my statement may have sounded contradictory, I tried to elaborate: “All of us have ‘rough bits’ of our personality that have developed from life experiences or even habits. For me, yoga has helped smooth out some of the rough edges which has helped me be kinder, more patient and happier.” Ever quick to make keen observations, Will wryly, yet aptly stated, “Yoga sounds like spiritual sandpaper.”
We all had a good laugh at his metaphor, but upon further reflection, Will’s observation was brilliant. Yoga can, if you let it, smooth out the rough edges and dents in your armour that life experiences can create. Buffing the coarseness can help you be a more polished, refined, truer version of you.
Perhaps you, too, upon quiet reflection have noticed changes that you’re proud of. Many of you have relayed inspiring (and often funny) stories that reflect a you that is more responsive and less reactive…and less likely to kick things 😉
So how does this happen? For starters, yoga is so much more than the physical practice. There are eight limbs of yoga, and the first two limbs are something called Yamas and Niyamas, which are yoga’s ten ethical guidelines for living a joyful life. The very first Yama is something called Ahimsa, which means nonviolence. An essential aspect of nonviolence is the ability to cultivate compassion, for both yourself and others. In Deborah Adele’s terrific book, The Yamas and Niyamas: Exploring Yoga’s Ethical Practice, she covers these guidelines in a reader-friendly manner. We referenced her book frequently this past week, and I was asked to post this particular passage in this week’s newsletter:
We learn compassion as we stop trying to change ourselves and others and choose instead to soften the boundaries that keep us separated from what we don’t understand. We learn compassion as we do simple acts of kindness and allow others’ lives to be as important as our own.
So while you deepen your practice and start to experience physical changes in your body, you might also become aware of other changes. Your “spiritual sandpaper” may help you to…
…step lightly, do no harm, and to honour the relationship we have with the earth,
with each other, and with ourselves.