I think that as yoga practitioners and teachers, we are hyper-aware of the way we are treating others. There is a lot of giving of the self: we think about Karma Yoga and how to incorporate it into our regular practice, we willingly stay late after class to discuss difficulties that others are having, we consider ourselves eco-friendly—eating, cleaning, shopping and commuting in ways that we consider kinder to the earth, we try to think before we speak maximizing the compassion we can offer to our spouses and children...
But what about compassion towards oneself?
Frequently when I stumble upon this discussion while reading yoga books, I fly right through it. I often think to myself that I have no problem with loving myself. I think that if anything, I might even have too much compassion for myself. I really surprised myself yesterday with the berating I gave myself upon spilling some oil. It was as though out of nowhere a reservoir of anger bubbled up to the surface and spewed out of my mouth. I said some things that I would never say to anyone else—and over some spilled oil?
Part of my path of yoga is to freely admit and accept my faults. But am I overly admitting my downfalls? and rather than kindly accepting them and working to love them equally with my strengths, am I using them to ultimately put myself down further?
In the Buddhist philosophy, the word Bhavana translates as cultivation or development, but can be combined with another word to mean the cultivation of that thing.
Karuna Bhavana is the developing of compassion—true compassion, not sympathy or pity.
Metta Bhavana is the cultivation of unconditional love.
In our everyday yogic approach to life—seeking to maximize compassion and unconditional love for others—can we extend the same insights to our own selves? Can we practice metta-karuna-bhavana toward our faults as well as our gifts?