A famous anthem immortalized by Aretha Franklin. Her soulful voice asks for Respect when her man comes home, asking him to find out what it means to her. What is Respect? Is it a thought or emotion that we expect from external sources? Is the value of respect only understood when we experience disrespect?
I am sure many of us have felt disrespected when you meet that person who doesn’t have any time for you, a boss who doesn’t respect your family time or a colleague who takes credit for your work and so on. Can we learn anything from Yoga to help us understand what Respect is to us individually?
Esteemed Yogis would tell us that there is some thought or emotion that we are displaying (internal), either consciously or subconsciously, that causes us to face disrespect (external). This may be hard to digest, but I do believe that every situation in life comes to help us grow.
Self Reflective Steps To Understand Respect
Whilst we cannot change the external environment, we can change our response. I have found that these self-reflective steps have worked for me:
Connect with yourself through breath. You can center yourself by just increasing the lengths of your inhales & exhales. Breathing in through the nose & out through the mouth with the ‘haa’ sound till you feel a sense of calmness descend over you. This is the first step before mediation, concentration or Dharana, and you will feel the mind-chatter stop.
To balance the left & right side of your energy channels you could also practise a few rounds of the Anilom Vilom pranayam. As you connect deeper you will find your body starting to communicate with you on what it needs to release stress; a few neck releases or shoulder rolls. Connect with yourself & allow your physical stress to melt away.
What is the truth? Concentrate in the Third Eye chakra (between the eyebrows) & allow your thoughts to come up about this situation. Let the thoughts roll in front of your mind like a TV screen and you are the observer. Emotions will come up, acknowledge them. From this space, something amazing happens. As you observe, you realize that you can choose or replace your thoughts for every emotion that comes up.
2. Create Value
In Buddhism it is said that every situation we find ourselves in is the perfect place for our growth. You can in fact create value from a painful situation & use it as impetus for self-growth. Assure yourself that this is what you are going to do.
3. Take it to the Asana
Respect is an emotion associated with our Third Chakra center, the Solar Plexus, and guess what the theme of this chakra is? “Honor One-Self.” Here is how you can learn some valuable insights on respecting yourself on the yoga mat, which you can take off the mat.
Do you respect your body in an asana? What is your reaction when your body does not get into a pose on a certain day? Perhaps you have an idea of how this pose is supposed to look like in your mind. In this case, what does your self-talk sound like? Do you push yourself anyway to achieve how you think it’s “supposed” to look (despite risk for injury)? Do you give up and feel upset or compare yourself to others in the class?
You can choose to respect your body where it is that day, and choose to love it unconditionally. Give yourself a big hug!
This teaches us an invaluable lesson to take beyond the mat—it is all within you to redefine your experience. Once you have worked on filling yourself up with so much self-respect, the environment has no other choice than to reflect what is within you. Creating Value can come like flashes of inspiration because you have determined to do so. It is what got me to writing this article. It is indeed a beautiful and empowering to experience this! Shine on!