Yogi Assignment: Speak with Love

The world feels like it’s turned on it’s axis. Love and hate seem all mixed up. Peace and war appear to be tangled up.

The last six weeks have been utterly heartbreaking for me. I feel like I failed colossally, like I messed it all up despite my intentions. I know it’s not true. Dana is no longer being sued and, even though I am not yet free myself, that’s something.

I do genuinely believe that there has been an irreversible shift in the yoga community, that on some level many of us have woken up to a new world and won’t be going back to the old status quo. That’s a good thing.

But sometimes the essence of the protest got lost in the drama and blurred by bullying from all sides. When someone takes a cheap shot at you and directs hate to you it hurts. And yet, I don’t think it has to be all “good vibes only”. I’m all for being strong enough to hear and listen to negative feedback. I believe in respectful discourse even when two people disagree. Just listen to my podcast interview with @jbrownyoga to see an example of that.

But I think it’s pretty obvious when someone just wants to send hate your way and bring you down in order to lift themselves up. I’ve had more than a few situations recently where I’ve been on the receiving end of hate, bullying, mean-spiritedness, judgement and misinformation. The biggest temptation for me is to go in and defend myself. I want to believe that we can talk it out and end on the same page with mutual respect. And of course I want to jump in and clear my good name. Dialogue is only possible when people are willing to open their hearts. True listening implies the willingness to be changed by what you hear. If someone is judge, jury and conviction, then there’s no path to reconciliation. If they cast you in one particular role and won’t open their mind, there’s no point in subjecting yourself to their rants. Just walk away.

Haters gonna hate. Don’t negotiate with them or you’ll throw your pearls to swine.

Listen with an open heart to every person who comes from love, even when the love hurts and especially when the love is tough. You’ll feel the difference. Hate only hurts. Love heals, even when it hurts.

We have no control over the world. But we do have control over our own actions. This week your Yogi Assignment is to Speak with Love. Navigate the space of mature and responsible communication by rooting your heart in love for the person or community that you are engaging with. It’s easy when everything goes your way, but really tested when things go awry. When someone yells at you, accuses you wrongfully, or intentionally harms you, acting and speaking with love is truly a challenge. The emotional patterning slides so easily into defense and even yearns to hit back. However, the moment your heart slips out of love and acts from hate you end up perpetuating the very thing you seek to heal. But if you come from love, even the harshest truth can be made palatable enough for someone to swallow.

So, what to do? It’s difficult to understand, but being does not mean that you should only share peaceful platitudes and suppress your anger or hurt. There is a fine line between anger and hate and it requires a deep exploration of your own inner world to feel the difference between the two. You can be angry at someone whom you love dearly and your anger can truly stem from a place of love and desire for peace. Spewing hate and vitriol to tear someone down without a seed of love and kindness comes from a place of unchecked aggression that only harms you. Only you truly know what’s in your heart.

Apply these three tools this week to bring your Yogi Assignment into real life:

1. Press pause—If you feel triggered by someone, do not react right away. Pause, meditate and breathe for at least 20 minutes. Then reflect on whether you are coming from love or if the heat of the moment has you acting out hate. Wait until you have true compassion in your heart about the person or situation before you act or speak.

2. Applied mindfulness—Keep a root in your own inner awareness in every interaction. If you notice your heart beating faster, your breath accelerating, your chest constricting or your muscles tightening, take a time out before acting or speaking further. Being self-aware is a crucial step in knowing whether you come from love or hate.

3. Self-love—Make time to listen and love yourself. Spending a few minutes on your mat every day is a great way to nourish yourself. Use this daily personal practice time to come back to your true center. Under every hateful statement is a hurting heart and if you’re able to heal your own heart you’ll be better equipped to communicate from a place of true love.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

~Ephesians 4:29-32

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