The path of Compassion is a better choice than tough discipline if you have “change” in your New Year resolution’s list. According to stats, it is a more hard-hitting strategy for making all kinds of changes in attitude.
Every determination to change arises with a rush of hope. You feel amazing when you are doing yoga, so you swear to practice it every day. Or it could be that you understand that your afternoon coffee breaks run you out of energy, so you promise to cut back. When you make these pacts with yourself, you feel great, ecstatic; possibly even get connected to your higher Self. You’re prepared to honor your yearning for health and bliss. And deep within, you know you are up to the test.
But after the initial keenness drains off and you get your first obstacle (the alluring latte and the missed yoga session), the inner critic in you comes up screaming out loud, Why is a simple change so hard to make? The voice screams out loud, and soon self-loathing creeps in. Maybe you try to keep it in control by setting stringent goals, or you come to a decision that resolution isn’t that important after all. Either way, the motivation fades off poof!—your old habits are back.
Yoga shows us an alternate approach for creating positive variations in your life: self-compassion. One of the messages in Yoga Sutra of Patanjali is that self-transformation doesn’t happen instantaneously, but you can overcome negativities one by one. Be gentle with yourself and accept your failures and setbacks with compassion, by doing so you will lead a much better and happier life.
Patanjali in Yoga Sutra says that the mind is like a dazzling gem, a diamond,” and over time this shiny diamond gathers dust, similarly over time we lose touch with our inner genius, the light within us. Yoga is the route to cleansing the mind and all that is blocking the light within you—the part of you that is perfect and is in control. When you think of changing an arrangement that is not helping you in this way (just like cleaning away gathered dust in your mind, which blocks your inner Self) it leads you to see the negative actions from a more compassionate approach.
Although, the ultimate goal of yoga is to exist in you, free of pain and getting to that point is a long journey. On your way, there are minor steps you can take to nurture self-compassion in your yoga routine and in your daily life.
Refrain from criticizing yourself; instead simply recognize that you were in search for happiness in the wrong place the whole time! The moment you separate the Self from the mind, you can easily find answers to your questions. Why were you putting off work or why were you overindulgent? What was the need? Was it stress? Or anger? Was it loneliness? What is fuelling these activities?
It is very important to be aware of your feelings and to be able to see them clearly rather than push them away. So when you are drawn to into a bad habit, you can be patient and loving to yourself. You will be less persuaded to pound yourself up and be more equipped to make a sensible, self-supportive decision.
Start this practice on your mat, this is one place where self-critical thoughts bubble up. When you are holding a pose and your inner critic chides in, observe what your body and mind feel and accordingly choose a more compassionate response. Maybe you are scolding yourself for not being quite flexible in a pose, always remember that a perfect asana doesn’t happen overnight, the pose, and bit by bit improves your flexibility.
The Bhagavad Gita says that when you spend yourself in the actions that you are meant to carry out, you are indeed more tolerant of your flaws. Little by little, you become aware of that you are making your journey towards a clearer mind and more serene heart. In this context, compassion is not so much a spiritual strategy as a natural result of struggling to know your higher Self.”
A vital teaching on compassion is present in the Yoga Sutra 1.33. This sutra advises us to nurture a love for those who are happy, compassion for those who are in pain, joy for those who are honorable, and composure for those who make blunders. Patanjali also helps us relate to ourselves. Nurture self-compassion by including this image in your meditation.