A while back I had one of those moments -- the one where you get angry at someone else for some perceived wrong only to realize that you're really angry at yourself. Ah yes, you gotta love the whole mirror phenomenon. For me it usually goes a little something like this: I see the person doing "wrong," and I get annoyed. Then I get all self righteous ("Can you believe that this person did this? I would never do such a thing!"). Finally, I -- grudgingly -- realize that the emotion in my reaction to what happened is disproportionate to what actually happened (i.e. there's more to this than meets the eye...this is about me not another person). BINGO -- that's how I know I'm seeing myself in another and not liking what I see.
This is one of the reasons why I like to do regular BS (yes, that is the acronym for bull sh$t) check-ins. I ask myself whether I'm judging someone and/or someone's actions, blaming someone for something or feeling self righteous about something and then question whether or not I'm walking my talk. Sure, it's nice to say that I practice yoga but do I live like I practice yoga regularly?
Last week I was lucky enough to see the Dalai Lama speak during his visit to Atlanta (the live Webcast may be over, but there is some archived material you can see here .). Not surprisingly, there were a lot of people there. There were lots of mala bead wearing, pro loving kindness people there. The question is, when push came to shove (quite literally with the utter chaos of so many people in the venue), do these people actually treat others kindly?
I asked myself the very same thing when I was in a long line of cars to get into the arena in which the Dalai Lama was speaking. When a car wanted to come into my lane after being in the incorrect one, I actually laughed at my initial "no way" reaction (I could blame it on being born and raised in NY, but that's a cheap shot). I scolded myself in the moment ("Really, Diane?!?!?! You're not going to let this person into the line but you're going to listen to the Dalai Lama speak about kindness and compassion towards others while nodding your head in agreement? Gee, that doesn't seem at all hypocritical!"), slowed up, and let the driver in ahead of me. Yes, that was definitely a am-I-walking-my-talk moment.
I'm happy to say that while there were a lot of people jammed into a small space, people -- for the most part -- treated each other kindly. Since the day started early (we were encouraged to arrive at the arena at 7:30AM to make it through security in time for the 9:30AM start), many folks walked in late. One poor woman shimmied her way through the row in front of me about 3 minutes before His Holiness completed his opening talk. The women sitting behind me tsk, tsk, tsked about everyone being "disrespectful" by walking in late. They mentioned that there were people sitting there furiously tapping on their cell phones rather than listening. I found myself thinking that perhaps the late comers got lost or didn't realize that getting through security would take so long -- anything but that they were being disrespectful. Yes, I was giving those folks the benefit of the doubt...not that it's my place to judge their comings and goings.
Hearing the women behind me dialoguing about the late-comers made me want to judge them for saying negative things at all. Yeah, I suddenly got amnesia regarding my little episode of not wanting to let another car into the line earlier in the morning. Funny how the mind works, eh? It's fine when you're being a total jerk but it's just not nice when others are exhibiting jerky behavior. Hello, self righteousness!
I've come to realize that rather than stick my self righteous nose into the business of others, I need to focus more on myself and my own actions. Am I acting according to my values? Am I taking responsibility for myself and my actions? Are my actions aligned with my words? Sometimes I don't always like the answers, but I always find them helpful.
This ever-interesting topic is being covered in a 3-Day Webcast -- entitled Walk the Walk: Working with Habits and Emotions in Daily Life -- featuring Pema Chodron and and Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel. The livestream happens October 25-27 with video archive access available through December 26. The livestream costs $79 and features talks, guided meditations, and Q&A sessions with both Pema and Elizabeth. Click here for more information .
There's nothing quite like exploring the idea of walking your walk/talk.
And here's a little something from the Tibetan Monks: