The other day, when I was parking my car to do some shopping, I noticed another driver waiting for me to reverse into my space. Sometimes, I’ll be the first to admit, I can be slow to park, especially if it’s a tight space, but on this occasion, I parked quickly and easily. And yet, those few seconds in which I was parking had held up another driver to the extent that her face was all grumpy and tight-looking. As soon as I was in the space, she shot me a filthy look and zoomed off in search of another space, closer to the supermarket entrance.
This small encounter got me thinking about what sort of day this lady was going to have, if someone parking – in a car park! – could upset her so greatly. To be fair, she may already have been having a bad day, before I cost her valuable time. I don’t want to judge. But it’s worth noticing when we get so worked up about such small things, and how we can cause ourselves to have a bad day. Maybe we could make our day better if we tried to snap out of the frame of mind which is judging everything to be less than satisfactory. Maybe we could notice the good things as well as the bad. Maybe we could avoid labelling the minor events of our lives as good and bad – just saying yes instead of no to all those small details of life.
In yoga, we have the terms raga (attachment) and dwesha (aversion). To attain a steady state of mind we need to learn to transcend these two – by not being so attached to the way we want things to be, and to stop saying a big ‘no!’ when things are not the way we want. A few weeks ago, I wrote a couple of posts inspired by the spring season, which came early and hot this year. Now we appear to have gone back to winter, with cold, wet weather, storms and gales. Whilst so many of us do feel better in glorious sunshine, we have to flow with what is. We can enjoy the ‘good’ times while they last, but not rail against the ‘bad’ times. We wouldn’t appreciate the sunshine as much if we didn’t have the rain, and we wouldn’t live in a green and leafy country. We wouldn’t appreciate the days everything seems to go ‘our way’, if we didn’t have days when everything goes ‘wrong’. But the lesson of non-attachment (vairagya) is to moderate our responses to what we perceive as good and bad, right and wrong. To flow through our lives with less resistance to what is. To rejoice in the sunshine, but to accept the rain without complaint.
We might habitually say ‘no’ on the inside to traffic jams, bad weather, meeting moody people, interruptions to our practice, phone calls when we’ve had a much needed early night, bills……the list goes on!!
What things do you find yourself saying a big ‘no’ to in your life? How would it feel if you tried saying ‘yes’ instead?