Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.
Maybe you’ve had it happen. You leave yoga feeling serene, centered, and calm. Next thing you know you’re in your car uttering four-letter words at the car in front of you or grumbling at your partner at home. You wonder how that post-yoga calm left so quickly.
The challenge lies in keeping the serenity that yoga can bring into daily life, especially the parts of life that are not so serene. I’ve found a tool that helps me tremendously with keeping up the calm I’ve cultivated on the mat as well as with being a less frustrated human being overall. It’s a technique I learned from yoga and meditation teacher, Erich Schiffmann, where you treat everyone you meet as a brother or sister.
The practice itself is very simple. When you encounter another person, you think, “Brother” or “Sister”, as the case may be. It’s especially effective when this is a person that is irritating you for one reason or another. The guy that cuts in front of the grocery line? Think, “Brother”. The woman talking loudly at a restaurant? “Sister.”
For me, the effect is three-fold. It allows me to catch myself when I’m about to call the person in question something very different in my head. Yes, I usually silently curse them in my head first, but I am becoming aware of when I do more quickly and then re-addressing them as my brother or sister. I also notice it helps me separate the person from their actions. Instead of labeling, “That guy is a jerk”, I think, “Brother”, and he becomes not a jerk, but instead a fellow human that did something that bothered me.
Finally, this practice helps me be more compassionate. Rather than get enraged at the guy who cut me off, I feel empathy for him. “Wow, he must feel really stressed and in a hurry to feel the need to dangerously whizz in front of people.” When someone is yelling and ranting on, I feel sorry for the person. “Wow, he/she must feel very angry. Being that person right now can’t possibly feel very good.” I feel more like an observer watching someone make a scene but not having to go to that emotional place with them. I can keep a distant calm and respond from that place of serenity instead of reaction.
Brothers and sisters, I hope this tip helps you too. Now I must be off to brave the highway with other brothers and sisters who I may need to mentally address along the way.