Thursday, April 05, 2012

Gotta start feeding our souls

Pavement shadow (not my photograph)

Why are we always cruelest to those we love the most? I know at this point it's almost a cliche, or at least a truism, but it remains true. Maybe we take those closest to us for granted, or maybe we're trying to drive them away. Maybe it's a way to avoid looking at ourselves too closely, to avoid being present in each moment as we love. It's a Christian cliche that love is not a feeling, but an action, but whichever it is we--or at least I--fail to love actively, consistently, kindly.

I made it to a yoga class this evening, for the first time since I've been in Massachusetts, and I was reminded of the first limb of yoga, ahimsa, the principle of non-violence. It's a fundamental tenet that no practice should involve violence to yourself or another, hence no pain, and no competition. Because all competition is a form of violence, the desire to defeat the other, a desire to be better.

It's that ahimsa that perhaps is lacking in our closest relationships as we compete with each other for attention, for regard, over who's working harder or doing things better. We even compete about who's right and who's wrong, who folds tee-shirts or steams vegetables correctly.

Coming back from yoga I glow with the attention I've given myself for the past 75 minutes, the mindfulness I've gained of my own core strength, the power of my own breath, my ability to overcome challenge and discomfort. But only by not competing with myself, by not harming myself, by not causing myself pain. And as long as I beat myself up, I beat up others around me. I've been reviewing by Julia Cameron, and I found this reminder last night:
"If I had more time, I'd have more fun," we like to tell ourselves, but this is seldom the truth. To test the validity of the assertion, ask yourself how much time you allot each week to fun: pure, unadulterated, nonproductive fun?

For most blocked creatives, fun is something they avoid almost as assiduously as their creativity. Why? Fun leads to creativity. It leads to rebellion. It leads to feeling our own power, and that is scary.
It may seen a non sequitur, but it's not. Fun is the opposite of cruelty. Fun is the food of love and creativity both. Yoga felt like nonproductive play tonight, with no violence, no competition. It's a good reminder to carry that joy around with me, as a weapon against the toxic sludge I can allow to steal my mindfulness.

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