One of the most valuable lessons I have learned from Sri Dharma is observing him love all beings unconditionally - without judgement. I strive to love in the same way. It isn't easy and it requires constant monitoring of the ego. It is also another way to practice being present. You notice your thoughts as they are forming; you choose silence over speaking; and you think before you act.
Recently I have been struggling with the judgement that seems to be overtaking yogis across the country. It ranges from judgement for being too into yoga to being not yogic enough. In the words of Salt 'N' Pepa(!), "Who are [we] to judge? There's only one true judge, and that's God, so chill, and let [our] Father do his job." Do I really believe there's a guy sitting up high somewhere judging us? No...but that's another topic entirely. But, you get the point. Who do we think we are?
To truly practice and promote peace, we can strive to see ourselves in others. Then how can we judge? We're all figuring ourselves out in our own way and in our own time. Let's create space for all to be who they are and love each other unconditionally. After all, "we're all just walking each other home." - Ram Dass
Noticing yourself judging? Here's what I try to do before it goes that far.
Step 1: I see myself in that person. It is especially helpful if I can find one point in common with them. For example, we are the same gender, we live in the same city, we have the same hair color...it isn't hard. You can find something in common with anyone. The most obvious is that they are also human...or, expanding further to all beings, they have a beating heart.
Step 2: Remind myself that he or she is doing their best. According to the laws of karma, we are all acting according to our conditions and, thus, everything is perfect exactly as it is.
Step 3: Mentally tell them I love them and create space for them to be exactly who they are.
Do I do this successfully day-in, day-out? No. Why? Because I'm not perfect. Of course not, I'm human. Even judging people who are judging is judgement. How's that for a riddle? But, even in these circumstances, I try to follow the steps above and work my way through it. If I do end up talking (or, in this case, writing) I try to choose my words very carefully - selecting word combinations that cause the least amount of harm possible. And every day I get a little bit better. Compassion is, as always, the answer. That's why AHIMSA is the root of all ethical practices in yoga.
The practice that serves me best --- when in doubt, is to keep my mouth shut. As Dharma says, "when you are silent, you see everything with love.
I hope you each has a lovely holiday season. I encourage you to be easy with yourself during these busy times. And eat more veggies. We can always benefit from eating more veggies.