I was recently training a group of yoga teachers and asked them to perform a meditative exercise. The effect of this exercise was so profound that I thought I would share it with all of you.
To begin, close your eyes and think of someone you are in conflict with. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you feel. Stay with this for a while.
Now, picture yourself saying everything you would like to say to them.
After you have finished, put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Hear everything you have just said. How do you feel as this person? What do you see from their view?
Now, respond to what you have said from the other person’s place. Say everything they wish to say to you.
When you have finished, move yourself back into your own shoes. Hear everything that was said to you. How do you feel now? What do you see standing back in your own shoes?
This exercise is meant to show you the world beyond your own ego. Practicing it on a regular basis, increases your compassion and decreases your anger and anxiety with both individuals, and the world at large.
Almost all of the yoga teachers in training found that they did not enjoy the experience of this exercise, because they did not like what they saw and felt when they stepped into the other person’s shoes. Some said that they could see their own ‘faults’ and ‘weaknesses’ much more clearly when they had switched over to the other side of the equation. Some were astounded at how ‘lost in translation’ they words and feelings were when they spoke to the other person. Almost all saw how unnecessarily cruel they were in their speech to this other person.
Practice this exercise as often as you can. Whenever you find yourself in conflict with another, spend some time in their shoes to see the world a different way. Use this exercise to see what you can let go of. Decide also how to more thoughtfully say what you need to. Be compassionate with this person, in thought, word, and deed. This is the yogic way.
Kavita Maharaj is the owner/operator of Red Door Yoga. She can be reached at 751-1458 or www.reddooryoga.ca for questions.