As I often am, I was inspired this week by a lesson my daughter had to learn. In teaching her, I was reminded that my resolution is to always strive to be My Best Self both on my mat and off. This goes hand in hand with two of the Karmic principles I was teaching in my classes right before the holidays.
Principle 1: As you sow, so shall you reap. This is also known as the Law of Cause and Effect. Whatever we put out in the Universe is what comes back to us. If what we want is happiness, peace, friendship, love…. then we should be happy, peaceful, loving, and a friend.
As a child (and an adult sometimes) it is natural for us to compare ourselves to others in order to make ourselves feel better…but does it really? That was the question my daughter had to answer on Christmas Eve as she opened her slightly bigger than her brother’s present and decided to point it out to him. He was upset for about 30 seconds and then moved on. I let her know that I was disappointed in her behavior and she found that disappointment in herself and was upset for quite a while.
Later on that evening we talked about it. I asked her to think about who suffered more by her “observation” about the size of the gift? Her brother who was upset for a few seconds or her who felt badly for quite a bit longer? She got the message loud and clear; what she was really learning was the 3rd principle of Karma.
Principle 3: You always have a choice about how you think or behave. Even if things aren’t working out the way you’d like at the moment, the law of Karma says that the positive effort you make now will inevitably come to fruition. The Sage, Vasistha summarized the deepest truth about Karma by saying “There is no power on earth greater than the right action in the present moment”
I like to use the analogy of our thoughts and actions as something we can look at in an internal “Mirror” If you look at that “Mirror” and you see your thoughts and actions…will you be happy with what you see? When you act and think in a way that allows you to look into that “Mirror” and see Your Best Self, then Your Best Self is exactly what you get.
It works the same way on the mat. There is always the opportunity to push harder and do more. Sometimes we judge others to make ourselves feel better, or we allow our ego to take us somewhere when we would be better served by listening to the body. Perhaps we see the person next to us moving into a full split, Vasisthasana (named after the sage Vasistha) and we force ourselves to move deeper into it also because our mind (our ego) demands it. If you were to look in a mirror at that moment, forcing and tensing to struggle into something that may not be supportive for your body that day…what would you see? Would it be Your Best Self?
Instead, we have the opportunity to slowly move further into our Vasisthasana (Split) when and if it is right for us, led from our internal self. As we breathe and settle and move deeper into the legs, hips, and breath what we see in that “Mirror” is all we need.
I know my 9 yr old daughter will not always be able to act using the 1st and 3rd principles of Karma. None of us can. But hopefully she is on her way to understanding how important those principles are in finding happiness along her journey. I wish that for all of us as we continue on our Journey into this New Year. The more of our “Best Self” we find, the Happier we will be. Happy New Year. Namaste.