YOGA IS ANTI-VICTIM MENTALITY
JANUARY 10, 2011. "We must not allow other people's limited perceptions to define us.” -Virginia Satir
Newsweek last December 9th did a story that spoke to how research shows Blaming Others is Contagious. Yes, I think we've all seen that for ourselves as some point whether it was on the playground or around a conference room table with fellow managers. This learned human behavior is one of the first things I remember when I started the practice of Yoga. I'd get on the mat and if class was hard for me I'd blame the teacher (clearly they made it too hard, it wasn't me). If I couldn't balance I'd blame the students around me for falling out of the pose and distracting me, it wasn't me. If I had difficulty holding downward dog or plank pose I'd blame the teacher for keeping us there too long, it wasn't about my upper body strength or tendency to give up too soon. And if I got confused by the instructions of a teacher it for sure wasn't about me not listening, the teacher was unclear.
We live in a victimized society.
And as many of you know my story I have on three very distinct occasions been victimized whether it was being run over by a car as a pedestrian or losing my Father when he was a young 59 years old due to negligence at the hospital. I have struggled with what it means to be a victim and what is meant by victim rights and for while there I got really good at blaming others for the quality of my life.
Then I realized the more I blamed others the more judgmental I became of everyone and everything. I stopped thinking about the intention and effort others were putting in. Or as Jen Gray Blackburn writes, "You will find life a whole lot easier if you can keep in mind that most people are just trying to do the best they can..." And now every time I step on my yoga mat I remember to take responsibility for myself and my breath and my poses. No one else is to blame.
Yoga is the anti-victim mentality.
And as a teacher of yoga and for those aspiring teachers you have to know that most if not all students will go through this same evolution and not to take it personally. You will be the person in front of them causing the friction (or at least that's what they'll think) until they take over responsibility for themselves and transform their lives. Jackie Robinson puts it like this, “I'm not concerned with your liking or disliking me... All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”
Really what spiritual practice is teaching is nicely summarized by Stacey Charter, “Don't rely on someone else for your happiness and self worth. Only you can be responsible for that. If you can't love and respect yourself - no one else will be able to make that happen. Accept who you are - completely; the good and the bad.” Through the time we make for ourselves on the mat we begin to realize this whether slowly or quickly but at some point a shift happens and you stop blaming others and instead take full responsibility saying to yourself as a constant inner mantra I am loving myself, I am loving my day and I am loving my life! Now I'd love for you to imagine a world where the contagion of blame has disappeared forever! When blame disappears only love will remain. Big love in all ways, Silvia
*Dedicated to all those yoga teachers out there teaching their hearts out and serving as the catalyst for change in the world!