I am not a peaceful person by nature.
People assume yoga teachers are a peaceful and calm lot. I’m sure a few are. Serenity is not a job requirement, however. Most of us are just as human and frantic as everyone else, caught up in the craziness of life and inclined to get frustrated, agitated, and angry at times.
My anger has always been bubbling under the surface. Or maybe on the surface.
I’m inclined towards conflict. I can be combative, argumentative, and defiant. I have been known to pick fights just because I felt a little cranky or because someone looked at me the wrong way.
I am not peaceful by nature; I am fiery by nature.
I have always valued my fire. As a smaller woman, I almost never felt intimidated by anyone. I have always felt confident standing up for myself and others. I have always felt empowered by my fire.
I’ve also felt my fire consume me.
I’ve taken my anger out on those who haven’t earned it like my husband, my kids, my parents, and friends.
I’ve unleashed my anger on myself and have been antagonistic towards my body. I’ve been reckless with my actions in pursuit of perfection or “betterness” and I’ve gotten sick and injured.
I’ve seen fear in the eyes of my children when the rage rises and bubbles over before I can stop it.
This is the side of my fire that I am not proud of. Cooling my fire or redirecting it has been a project now for awhile. And I’ve made some headway with weekly mantras, regular meditation, and more regular self-care. It’s not perfect – I still get angry. I still sometimes behave like a human volcano. I have created some headway, though.
Lately I’ve felt a different anger.
It’s bigger than me. This country doesn’t feel like my country right now. The president certainly isn’t my president. And many people, once hidden in the shadows and corners of society, now feel emboldened to express their hatred, bigotry, racism, and violence. They’ve even marched through the streets, proclaiming their hatred for everyone they dislike. People have now died on American soil as the direct result of American Nazis.
I’ve embraced my anger and used it as a tool to spur my activism. I’ve called my congresspeople, I’ve marched, I’ve protested, I’ve tweeted, and I’ve vocally expressed my truth as publically as I can.
And it still doesn’t feel like enough.
That anger and not-enough-ness has spilled over into my life. I want to rage at everything. For the first time in my life, I know my anger won’t be the only thing that helps me here. I need peace, too.
I am not peaceful by nature, but I also don’t want to be held captive by my anger. I want my kids to see a calm mom more than they see angry mommy.
Every week, I create a mantra for myself. The intention of the mantra is to give me energetic and emotional guidance throughout my week. This week, I chose the mantra: BE PEACEFUL.
I chose this mantra knowing it would be a difficult one for me.
Anger is familiar to me; peace is foreign.
I have to work hard to be calm.
I have to work hard at meditation.
And I do because I know it’s worth it to embrace an aspect of myself that isn’t as natural. Peace will make me stronger.
That’s the thing about peace. Being peaceful does not mean being passive. Being peaceful does not mean being a doormat. Being peaceful does not mean you disengage.
Peace and strength can coexist.
Peaceful ferocity is a thing.
Peaceful determination is necessary if I want to create change.
Anger is divisive.
I want to unify more than I want to divide. I know now it will get me further. And while I still believe anger is worthwhile, I also know that anger can only get me so far. Peace will open more doors.
I am not denying my anger or trying to repress it. That would be a bad idea.
Instead, I am choosing to tap into love this week instead of fear. I am choosing peace over division. Or at least I’m trying.
I’ve been applying this to every area of my life, not just the outwardly activist.
When I am making choices, especially ones that have ordinarily had responses that were more anger-fueled, I’ve asked myself a few questions:
Is this peaceful?
What does engaging with myself peacefully look like? What does it feel like?
Will this action harm me or will it heal me?
Will this action or thought create more unity or will it create more division?
What result am I after?
When I ask myself these questions, the answers give me an opportunity to change course or proceed, as needed.
In the past 48 hours I’ve applied this my yoga practice, my behavior towards my familiar, negative thoughts I’ve held towards my body, and even posts I’ve made on social media.
Most of the time, these questions and this mantra, have made a shift in my behavior patterns. I’m not perfect. Neither is the mantra or the sentiment. It has made a difference though, which is all I’m after.
Sometimes being peaceful requires me to hold stronger boundaries with my kids.
Sometimes being peaceful means telling myself I love this body that grew 2 humans, even after I start criticizing my belly or the bags under my eyes.
Sometimes being peaceful means I choose not to say something to my husband that wouldn’t have done anything other than be mean.
Sometimes being peaceful means I do hip openers happily in my yoga practice instead of arm balances while my wrist is healing.
Sometimes being peaceful means I bring glass containers with me to the grocery store for dry goods instead of getting plastic bags each time.
Peaceful looks different through many different lenses. Peacefulness is a choice of consciousness over tendency.
Peacefulness is not my nature. And that’s ok.
Peacefulness can be taught, learned, and practiced. People assume yogis and yoga teachers are born calm and peaceful, but that’s an urban myth. Yoga teachers are just as susceptible to anger, fear, and negativity as anyone else. We just tend to be more aware of the inner dialogue that creates the darkness and anger. We have tools to help us make sense of it all. We learn practices that allow us to tap into and harness our awareness. Yoga. Meditation. Mantra. The superpowers of the peaceful.
We can get angry. We can rage. We can resist. We can persist.
We can do all of these things because peacefulness can coexists alongside them all.
Power to the peaceful.
Note: Yogis are not the only people who have exclusive access to these teachings and plenty of yogis don’t have them at all. I believe being peaceful is as much of a choice as any other emotion.
If you want to learn how to access these tools, I can teach them to you. I’m offering a FREE 7-day program teaching you the basics of creating a weekly mantra, a daily yoga practice, and a daily meditation practice. 1 week could change your life. You’ve got nothing to lose and a lot to gain. Sign up here.