Every morning, I take my dog out for a walk. Some days I am really distracted. I look at my phone. I check my email. I check my Facebook. Look, notifications for comments on my vegan food photo! Other days I make a more conscious effort to be present. I resolve to see the world through my dog's eyes. Those days, I feel a lot happier. My dog would see a tree and it makes him happy. My dog would see a post and it makes him happy. He would see a flower or a paper bag or a trash can and it makes him happy.
One day I was in that full awareness mode walking my dog in Greenbelt. I saw this lady coming out from the church and crouching over to get to the side of the lawn that people are not allowed to go. They cut the grass and landscape it and all that, so it was all very pretty and for show. I was curious. I wanted to know why the lady wanted to cross over, so I stayed and watched. She walked over to where a cat was hiding, and she took out food from a brown bag she had with her. It was pre-meditated feeding. She knew there were many stray cats in the area, so she brought food for them. When I saw that, I thought of how sweet the gesture was. How beautiful. Love is all around. Small acts of kindness happen all the time.
The focus of the month for March is Bhakti, and this devotion to God, or yoga of love, is expressed in seeing that love is everywhere, in everyone and in everything, all the time. It is just that we do not always notice. Or that we are distracted. Or we are quick to judge. Imagine if I had not stayed and watched the lady, I would just think she's strange, labelled her, all without knowing the full story. And that is what happens all the time, doesn't it? We do not know the full stories of others, so we judge and label and categorize and segment and cloud the essence of all things. If we did not have these biases, we may see that all is an expression of love. The Divine is everywhere, in things ordinary and everyday.
Even when we attend yoga classes, we forget. We forget that the people we practice with are Divine, that they are full of love, capable of giving love and receiving love. So look around you, and start to notice how everything comes from love. As we practice yoga asana, we can start to apply this attitude. We do the poses in love, even and especially during challenging moments. We can also work with partner exercises on backbends. It can be invigorating, this knowledge and experience that through our own actions stemmed from love, we can literally lift others up.
Our yoga practice is not for show. The asana is not the full story. The asana is the beginning, a toe dipped in the water, exploring how vast our capacity to love is- to love ourselves, to love others, to see the Divine everywhere and in everything. As our yoga asana practice progresses, we become aware of our power, not only the power to do a pose with our body. More important than that is the power we have with the choices we make with this body.
Be the person who lifts up others. Be the person who crosses over a superficial barricade to help homeless animals. Be the person who thinks, speaks, and acts from a place of love.
Be vegan. See the divine in our fellow animal beings.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.