My yogic journey has let me to some interesting spaces, and it’s fairly easy to note that one of the most resounding lessons I learned was about suffering. Western sensibility sometimes encourages a defensive stance, which causes us to project the fault of our personal suffering. This is particularly true if we did not intentionally cause the situation that induced said suffering. It’s my opinion that this practice is false, and leads to the disruption of our ultimate quest for peace.
The typical response to my conviction is the accusation that we should just let bad things happen and let people get away with harming each other. This is also false. There is no crime in standing in your skin, and standing up for what you believe in. This is a choice. The response to your words or actions, of which you have no control, may not be what you expect. Suffering as a result of that response is also a choice.
Recently, a series of unfortunate events transpired and caused my students to suffer. Said infliction was not intentional, and was the result of a horrible mix-up that can only be objectively proven through technology (which, fittingly, is currently offline). The response to these events resulted in a reprimand that I don’t believe I deserve. I have no control over the actions of the person behind the reprimand, but I do have control over whether to suffer as a result.
I choose not to suffer.
I initiated a sound rebuttal and triggered a protective paper trail that serves all parties. While this is standard corporate procedure, I’ve found it a bit of a unicorn in many yogic environments. It’s common for all of us to get caught up in the magic (and it is indeed magical) of yoga and forget to stand in our skin and stand up for ourselves. We are whole people. We matter. And when admonished, we have a right to respectfully respond in kind. Just as I cannot control circumstances and actions outside of my person, no one can control me. I am my own person, and I cannot be moved by threats or reprimand.
What does this mean? Nothing. Everything. If suffering is a choice, then we empower ourselves to understand our purpose on this Earth, and we behave in kind. It is my life’s joy to teach. I love each and every person who comes to their mat to breathe and move with me. We used to have a saying at my old corporate job that “We ain’t saving Babies.” Guess what? I feel just the opposite about yoga. If I can help ONE PERSON stand in their skin and feel confident and amazing and abundant and move in kind, then I have succeeded. It is small acts that make the biggest difference. I am in awe and humbled by the opportunity to influence and spread love and kindness.
But that doesn’t mean I’m a pushover.