What bunny ears have to do with compassion

 In *from my heart

A Rabbit Noticed My Condition

“I was sad one day and went for a walk; 

I sad in a field.

A rabbit noticed my condition and 

came near.

It often does not take more than that to help at times – 

to just be close to creatures who

are so full of knowing,

so full of love

that they don’t

-chat.

they just gaze with

their 

marvelous understanding.”

-Meister Eckhart

I don’t like to cry in front of people.

My habitual strategy for managing strong feelings verges on Vulcan; you can tell when I feel sad, or angry, or vulnerable because I’ll cock my head to one side and look baffled.

It’s not that I don’t have feelings. In fact, my moods were legendary in our household: “Rachel’s in one of her states again,” my family would say, rolling their eyes and giving me a wide berth. My well-meaning parents taught me to be “nice,” “polite,” and “in a good mood.” Sadness was considered self-pity; anger was disrespectful. I managed my emotional peaks and valleys by trying to hold my feelings in. Sadness became stoicism. Anger was directed inwards: cutting, self-denial, silence.

Re-membering

Part of my journey in yoga has been to “re-member myself:” to seek out my abandoned orphan parts and usher them back home.

When I start to experience my darker feelings – whether it’s anxiety, sadness, vulnerability, fear – I often have a knee jerk impulse to “fix” myself.  I try to lock the feeling away in order to seem okay.  However, “fixing” implies locking something down, freezing it into stasis by gluing it into place. Ironically, by “fixing” ourselves, we make monuments of our hurts and give them a permanence that they don’t necessarily have.

The nature of our emotions is watery; when we “fix” them, we plasticize that which should freely move, and turn our wild and magnificent emotional ocean into a stagnant and settling swamp.  When instead we can pause, feel, and resist fixing (or hiding, or shoving, or icing over), then our feelings are able to re-claim their watery nature.  And in their ebb and flow, they clear away and heal any ragged markings in the sands.

The practice

When feelings surface, can we resist fixation and instead create the space to simply be and feel?  Like the rabbit, can we be so full of love and knowing that we hold ourselves with marvelous understanding rather than “chat?”  Creating space for our own experience without judgment – or even labels – allows us feel the depth and breadth of our humanity without needing to make it right, wrong, or different.  When we are able to be with how we feel – without compulsively justifying or blaming – then we can truly “re-member” ourselves and embrace the fullness of who we are.

Yoga practice:

  • “You are not a problem to be solved.”
  • Embrace feeling, not fixation
  • Allow the practice to be a tool for self-reclamation, rather than a measuring stick.

Life practice:

  • Practice listening to your friends and loved ones without comment or judgment.
  • Be the space, not the solution.
  • When you want to comment, pause, and see if there more power and grace in simply listening.
  • Listen to yourself – your body, feelings, and mind – as you would listen to a dear friend.
  • Sit with your favorite creatures – cat, dogs, rabbits – and just be.

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