Every time I attend a yoga course or workshop, I am overwhelmed by the love and acceptance that fills the room.
This isn’t because I am surprised that there are kind and compassionate people out there, capable of emanating such fundamental principles of humanity; but because of the very common and natural anxieties a lot of us feel when walking in to a room full of strangers - will they even like me, let alone love me? Will they accept me for who I am/what I look like? Will they judge me on my physical appearance and/or “Yoga ability”?!
This weekend I went to London for a yoga workshop, and it also happened to be Pride festival. These events have inspired me to focus on the themes of love, acceptance and non-judgement in my classes this week.
Passing judgement is ingrained in our modern way of thinking - we “like” pages and comments online, we rate places we have visited, experiences we have had, and people we have met. Judgement is also our tool for survival – it is the natural means by which we determine threat and danger, so in some respects it is important to have a little bit of judgement in our lives. But sometimes, those things we judge as "wrong" or "bad" often bother us so much that they can have a negative impact on us, causing us to feel anger, self-loathing, depression, anxiety and many other unpleasant emotions.
Ancient yogic wisdom teaches us that our suffering does not actually come from the things we dislike in and of themselves, but from attaching our judgement to them. So the simple practice of non-judgement has the power to transform the way we see and experience the world.
London pride was like nothing I’ve ever seen/experienced before.
A bustling sea of rainbows and glitter! Lady Gaga, Queen and ABBA pumping out of every parade float! But above all, the sheer quantity of people in one place not only celebrating, but rejoicing in the uniqueness of every individual being, with love and acceptance (without judgement) was a breath-taking thing to behold!
It is so important to practice these qualities because it means that we can begin to embody our true selves, and experience our life and our relationships more deeply and with more vibrancy. In turn, we will be mentally and physically healthier, love ourselves and others more honestly, and welcome more joy and peace into our lives.
So the next time you catch yourself passing judgment towards yourself/others or a given situation, start to take note of how much emotional energy it takes to embody this emotion - being defensive or aggressive causes the body to contract, creating unnecessary tension, and therefore more emotional struggle. When we begin to express love and acceptance instead, there is a growing sense of freedom and lightness – of expansion. When we stop beating ourselves up and criticising others humour, fun and laughter replace the heaviness of judgement.
As you have probably noticed, I much prefer fun and laughter in my classes over seriousness!
Let’s love and accept one another this week, always, and forever!