This passion flower has a heightened vibrancy and strong display of color - a beautiful representation of the word "passion" - an emotion and word I understood from only one side.
I learned some interesting lessons this week at Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas, where I am managing the Well Being Center as a karma yogi, doing selfless service.
At dinner a couple nights ago, a karma yogi that I consider a friend, offered up a passionate argument for the Ashram providing free yoga to the Bahamian employees here, during their work time - so basically not just free, but the Ashram paying them for taking a yoga class.
My business background immediately brought forth in my mind the financial implications and logistical issues.
My yoga training and socially liberal nature had me noting that there are many merits to this idea. Generally I am supportive of the positive impact it would have if such an idea were implemented - on the workers, on their families and potentially on an even broader spectrum of community and beyond - the spheres of influence spreading outward from a single action.
Yet, with each sentence spoken, I had a counter defense as to why it might not be so easy to do for the Ashram. How would they cover the work? How expensive would it be? Would the Ashram have to provide clothing for them to wear, as they generally come in their uniforms for working? Would it be fair to those who continued to work while others were taking a yoga class?
And each time, my karma yogi friend had a vehement response, and then I had another question or reply. I wasn't alone either, as others at the table were either chiming in about it being a good idea or one that was not practical and difficult for the Ashram to implement. All very civil, but tones of passion and strong conviction were evident from the originator of the conversation and idea.
The conversation about the idea shifted to another topic. In my mind, I stayed on the prior topic and wondered why I was having such defensive reactions to an idea that I basically agreed with and thought would be nice for a number of reasons. My meditation appears to be having an impact, as observation of the mind is a key factor.
At a lull in the conversation, I shared that I was still thinking of the idea presented and I kindly encouraged my friend to think about approaching the senior level management in a less passionate manner, if she planned to present a proposal. She was a bit taken aback, but listened and asked me to explain. I said I observed that her strong conviction caused an equally strong defensive response in me, even though I basically agreed with her points.
It was the first time I had seen and felt how strong conviction and passion could be received as critical and judgmental and attacking in nature.
I saw in her pleas and her passion - Me - and I told her so. It was surprising to see 'me' in action.
My own style has been much the same throughout my life - very passionate and full of conviction and strength of opinion. I know that side well, and I always felt it was the "right side" or "best way" to be and approach anything I cared about.
That night, I observed in a less attached manner, the other side and realized that the passion play may not be the best approach to achieve the desired end result. This was a very important lesson for me, and I thanked her. She too thanked me, as she hadn't realized how strong she had come across.
That same friend taught me another lesson too. She looked a bit surprised when I first started sharing about her passion perhaps not being the best approach, but she welcomed my thoughts - not just saying it with words. I often say I welcome feedback, but as hard as I try, the words offered often ignite more reactions in me.
Whereas, I watched her face and body language the entire time. She was truly listening without any emotional reaction and was genuinely thankful for the feedback. She modeled for me something quite difficult - accepting someone's thoughts as feedback and not judging them as criticism of me personally.
There was no cycle of escalated emotions, with one person taking offense and then the other defending their position, usually tossing back a strong comment and then continuing the emotional dialogue with offend, defend being the major points of action - all wrapped up in emotions. It was a simple and yet, highly impactful conversation.
Two powerful lessons seen in less than an hour. Now I get to put into practice what I've learned - the key word being 'practice' - I am truly blessed and grateful.
Thank you for taking this journey with me!
Loving Life and Living Love,
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