Many of us live in a big city surrounded by so many other human beings. However, if we pause and reflect, we may notice that the majority of the time we don’t truly see the others. It’s kind of normal, since we don’t truly see ourselves either.
We are all on a path of enlightenment, a path of awakening – even if some don’t recognise it as such. Through the practice of yoga, we are slowly awakening the body, breath and mind. We feel more connected to our body; are able to listen to its subtle communications and desire for clean, healthy nourishment, correct movement and restful sleep. We begin to recognise the patterns of our breath during different activities and use our breath to bring our body and mind together and in calm. With practice we begin to notice the tendencies of the mind. It’s clever way of avoiding what it wishes not to see, of justifying the unskillfulness it can’t help seeing in itself, or it’s unending ability to blame others for things it does not like or cannot accept.
Learning to ‘see’ is imperative to live in joyfulness. This can be called Joyful Awareness.
So how does all this relate to friendliness? I believe that to cultivate friendliness, we need to practice ‘seeing’ – not with an air of judgement or comparison. Just seeing. We pass dozens of people on the street and rarely see a single person. We sit in a restaurant, order from the waiter without looking at them, receive our food while continuing our conversation with our friend as if the food just arrives magically without the help of a real person. We rate businesses, services, people through social media often without really ‘seeing’ the humanness behind the screen. And, many businesses treat us like numbers in their machine, forgetting the person behind the number. The inter-connectedness of this phenomena is clear. The unskillful way to deal with it is to blame ‘big business’, blame ‘social media’, blame the people in cars – in short, blame ‘others’.
No one is to blame. We are one and we all contribute to the one. If we wish to make some change we must be brave, develop mindfulness and practice seeing.
I believe that if we can see others, really see them, it will aid us on our path. It’ll make the path more joyful and friendly – which makes the path THE practice THE way – not worrying about getting somewhere simply BEING somewhere – here and now!
Friendliness with Oneself
Look in the mirror, at your face, try to see who’s there. Who is that there, looking back? Can you truly see? Just see – without a discourse about the attributes you like or dislike. See that right there, looking back, there is a miracle! A living, breathing being. And looking deeper, you perceive the miracle of consciousness. That being, that YOU, that consciousness has the right to feel good, has the right to friendliness and is totally lovable! Cultivate this daily!
Smile for yourself – it sends a message to the brain that everything is OK.
Friendliness with Others
Cultivating friendliness with others is similar to the above. Try looking around and seeing others. Again, not with a discourse of likes and dislikes. See their face, the consciousness that is exactly like yours. The living being that is also a miracle. That they experience triumphs and failures, happiness and sadness, peace and torment, love and loss, just like you! When we truly see others, we feel the inter-connectedness of our community, our city, our country, our continent, our world!
Practicing Friendliness at the Yoga Studio
Ashtanga Yoga Paris is a sanctuary, a place to go to practice yoga, mindfulness and friendliness in the safety of a caring community. We can cultivate friendships with others, like us, who are looking for well-being and ways to feel more peaceful.
If you are new to the yoga studio, don’t hesitate to ask those who are more familiar for advice. Where are the yoga mats? Which classes are good when I feel more tired? Have you ever tried Mysore practice? …
If you are a familiar face at AYP, it’s so lovely if you can help the newbies feel welcome, at home, in our community. Offer a friendly smile. Share your yoga stories – how it helps you in your life. Give them a little tour of the studio.
In the yoga rooms, be gracious, considerate and friendly with your community in sharing the space, moving your yoga mat to allow room for another, folding blankets beautifully and putting props away nicely so the others feel they are entering a clean, neat space that encourages peacefulness and mindfulness.
Like geese who fly together in formation, it makes it easier because they create an updraft. Breathing together in the yoga room makes it easier for us all to find the motivation to do something good for ourselves!
Yoga is a practice of union. Joining to breath together and support one another in growth. It’s so much easier to walk the path as a group. Feeding on Friendliness opens our peaceful, loving heart!