Look at someone with eyes full of love, not judgment. ~ Annie Carpenter, yoga instructor
A friend recently asked me what I like most about yoga. I answered that I like how yoga's underlying principles inspire compassion. Yoga helps me to become a better person. With yoga, I find myself more apt to check my judgments, and more inclined to forgive.
Personally, I know It's easy to pay lip service to these tenets, while not changing our own conduct.
Working in tech, I often struggle with the tension between the teachings of yoga and the pace and demands of the life that I live. I've discussed this tension regularly with friends and colleagues. I've contemplated how to reconcile the divide between the tech world's endless flow of information, the competitive 'take no prisoners' drive of my colleagues, and the demands of being 'always on' with yoga's gentle and slow pace, its call to relax, and most notably, its compassion. The title of this blog is even a paean to my journey here.
So is it possible? And if so, how do we begin?
Lately, companies wishing to emulate Facebook's success have latched onto its mantra 'move fast' and 'break things'. While this is a sexy meme, I find it dangerous. It's disturbing that we've come to accept a culture that counsels 'hacking' and shortcutting our way to success as a way to live our lives.
Moving fast necessarily implies lack of intent and consideration, breaking things implies carelessness, destruction, and disregard for collateral damage. An image of a spoiled child throwing his toys around comes to mind. It's easy to lean on arguments that this mantra is restricted to software development, without consideration of the social repercussions from this mentality leaking into general mores of how we live our lives. I think this is an impossibility. How can we break things in work, but not in life? How can we regularly be told to break things, without these words permeating into our consciousness, without us thinking that it is ok? If it's ok to break things carelessly, why not be careless with people as well? These words become endemic and destructive.
So here's my challenge. Is it possible to work in a world where we're instructed to move quickly and 'fail' while still showing care and compassion for those around us? This is where I welcome yoga. Yoga teaches slowing down, relaxing, exercising mindfulness, and observation. In my mind, these teachings cultivate compassion for others, compassion that can help us in our work. Perhaps it is possible to move slowly, or with intention, and still rise to the top.
Slow and careful observation can help us to understand people and concepts better. Relaxing can help us focus. Compassion for others can inspire reciprocal empathy.
Here's my call to action. I do believe that hearing yogic principles regularly inspires its teachings within us. There's something magical about the power of repeating its chants, about hearing words filled with method, intention, and compassion rather than carelessness.
In order to fill your life with compassion, post a loving thought on your mirror every day, and see what happens! I'll do it too!