10 October 2014

Anahata, realizing some people are assholes, and surrounding yourself with good.

One thing we've been focusing on lately in yoga is opening up the heart chakra. Sounds like a bunch of crunchy granola esoteric shit, I know... and that's because it kind of is. :) But bear with me for a bit.

The fourth primary chakra, Anahata (Sanskrit: अनाहत) or the "heart" chakra, is associated with the ability to make decisions outside the realm of karma. I'm sure you're familiar with the phrase "follow your heart", which encourages someone to make decisions not based on unfulfilled emotions, but on one's higher self.

We've been doing poses this month to open up this chakra if desired, notably Camel (Ushtransana), Cobra (Bhujangasana), and a "flying" kundalini yoga exercise where arms are raised to a T and the heart pushes forward as the arms go back. During the practice, we're also asked to consider:

  • ♥ What emotional memories do I need to heal?
  • ♥ What relationships, current or past, require healing?
  • ♥ Are my emotional wounds taking over, causing me to try and control people or situations around me?
  • ♥ Do I allow the wounds of others to control me? How do I let it happen?
  • ♥ What do I need to forgive myself for? Who needs forgiving from me?

These poses have been done in conjunction with the Loving Kindness meditation, which I went over previously. (Ignore the broken images... trying to fix that!)

What's especially difficult about these poses is not the actual muscle it takes, as sometimes it doesn't take much at all, but that your heart is completely exposed and leaves you open to feeling something you may just not want to feel at the time. It's very hard to open up like that, especially if your heart is scarred from being hurt by others, betrayal, or other negativity that you hold within yourself. Your heart becomes hardened to the world and against allowing others (and yourself!) in, and it can be very scary to try to break down those walls, as doing so may open you up to more isolation and pain.

I've noticed in my own life is that I can be a rather open person to most people. I invite others in willingly, extend my heart out, and generally try to be as friendly and effervescent as possible. Sure, I get hurt here and there, but in the grand scheme, leaving my heart open to new people is generally a positive experience.

But if there's anything I've been struggling with recently, it's learning to let go of those moments where people bring their negativity to a relationship... notably where those two people have never actually met. Even more, learning not to take it personally when harm is done, as why would you take to heart something said by some internet personality! It's especially difficult when they make themselves a martyr to your social networking circles.

I came across an article recently about why people are such assholes on the internet. (I love, by the way, that the title is flanked by the amount of time it takes to read. Just 8 minutes!) One notable point made was that we become intellectually lazy on social media, choosing not to view the person as an individual but to make assumptions and lump them into stereotypes of groups with which we disagree if they say something we don't like.

That, and there's the power of the reputation within a social group, also discussed in the article. There's the desire to be accepted and lauded by your peers, even to someone's detriment, if there are people picking apart every word you say, and the chances of being more defensive about a position skyrocket as a result. I see it all the time on Facebook and, more rarely but just as deeply, on personal blogs.

Have I been subject to this? Absolutely! As a blogger and admittedly fervent Facebook user, I'm often at least witness to these types of things, and once in a rare occasion, I'm actually a part of the drama. I can name a few off the top of my head, and I'll be straightforward in saying they are often the subject of my Loving Kindness meditation for the "difficult" person.

They're typically people, though, that I've never met in real life, and for people I don't actually know outside the persona they've made in their social networks, I certainly allow them to take up a lot of headspace. More, I'd say, than I do people I know in person.

It's definitely something I need to learn to let go, especially since they're probably not paying me the same mind, you know? And if they are, they're likely tormenting themselves as well with this "clogging up" of headspace that could be taken up by better, more productive things.

So in practicing these heart-opening poses and meditations, I'm trying to learn to simply... let go. It's incredibly difficult, and it opens yourself to possibly more hurt, but in the long run, it's a positive experience that will lead to more fulfilling relationships and experiences. Take a little hurt now, live a better life after.

I'm also learning to, quite frankly, not give a fuck. :) That headspace could be much better utilized, so why focus on those things that likely have no effect on anyone else and give a fuck about yourself and those who actually matter first! How do I go about doing this?

1. Know your values. Determine what's important, what isn't, and what you're ultimately aiming to get out of life. Once you know what those all are, what other people think of you becomes significantly less important, and you can have something you truly value: Something to believe in. Get your values straight, get your shit straight.

2. Put yourself out there! I already do this by Facebook, blogging, and even in real life social circles, but the bigger dare is to be honest with yourself and what you share. Don't censor yourself simply because someone may not like what you have to say (while also realizing that not every molehill is a mountain).

3. Surround yourself with pros. Not just people who are badass at what they do, but those who are a "pro" addition to your life rather than a "con". I'd say this one is of UTMOST importance, if only because it'll help you find happiness if you surround yourself with it. Find people who are self-assured and who live their lives without compromising their own core values, and you'll find that they quickly rub off on you!

4. Create a bucket list, and actually work to complete it. I actually have something similar, my 40 Before 40 list, to provide some inspiration. Add a couple things to it that will push you to your limits, too, don't just make it all whimsical! Your list should push you to reach new goals, realize what's important in your life, and challenge you to be your best.

5. Travel alone. If you're like me -- with a family, career, and other obligations -- this one may be on hold for a while, but it's something everyone should experience once in their lives. It'll force you into new social cultures, break some norms you didn't know existed, and ultimately force you out of your own little bubble. (And for me, at least... do it on a motorcycle! If only because it's badass!)

And, if you so choose, open your heart to new experiences and new people, knowing full well that you may be hurt once in a while... but that those positive relationships will stick with you for a lifetime.

Namaste. :)

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