You see, when I teach yoga classes, it is easy to exercise patience. Students are amazing and respectful and enthusiastic. But when I'm out there in the real world, and I have to deal with day-to-day inconveniences, whether with strangers or people who are close to me, that is the real test. Do I truly practice what I preach? Am I a good example of a yogi? Am I the change that I wish to see in the world? If lining up at the BIR is enough to let my blood boil, perhaps there's more work I need to do. Of course, it doesn't mean that we are perfect and we don't break down or have moments of weakness and all of that. But it means we become aware of our actions, and we start to consider that if our single action is multiplied by 7 billion times, what kind of a world would it be?
The focus of the month is "Be the change". It's a reminder that beyond what we talk about, what we teach and preach and pontificate, what we tell others they should do, the true example starts with our own actions. It is through our actions, not when things are easy but when things are challenging, that our character is tested, and we can practice being the change we wish to see in the world. It is true that it feels like our emotions and our thoughts get ahead of us. So think about it for a moment. When we say "our emotions and thoughts get ahead of us", we are acknowledging that they are not one and the same, that this "us" is separate from the thought and the emotion. And so on a practical level, if we wish to change the world, what we need to get in touch with is the self, that is separate and a witness to the thought and the emotion. That then, will be our practice, to observe the self separate from the thoughts and emotions, and see what internal changes happen, and what external changes turn out to be a result of that.
"Be the change" is a tall order. So we break down this huge expectation into manageable chunks, into what we can manage asana by asana, moment by moment, breath by breath. When we become proficient with these tools, we'll find it is unnecessary to be unkind, even when things do not go our way.