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Find the Goodness Within
There’s a choice at the moment, do we go with Hobbes’ assertion that the natural state of mankind is “nasty, brutish and short” or do we see the intrinsic goodness of each person? The former will be driven by our deepest fears. The latter will challenge some ingrained beliefs, but will ultimately ask that we see the best in others and ourselves.
Seeing the intrinsic goodness in ourselves and others is not always easy, but in this time of pandemics, it’s essential to our individual and collective growth. Our limbic, lower, brain with its pre-rational fight-or-flight responses can so easily take over in testing times. We may seek negative news stories that confirm our worst fears, the so-called “negativity bias” (a primal mechanism of survival). As Rick Hanson says, the mind is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.
The fear is real, and it can be skillful or not. Fear can be positive as it prompts us to act. Fear untamed, however, leads to increased fragility and less resilience, as we become more risk-averse and seek out negatives that confirm our worst fears. We can become cut off from our and others’ intrinsic goodness. This can lead us to life that is filled with criticism, flatlining, and rooted in searching for the bad in everything.
How Yoga and Meditation Help Us Connect to the Positive
Seeing and feeling our intrinsic goodness requires practices and people that fire up the wiring of the frontal cortex—the seat of rationality, reason, and compassion. Meditation, even for just 12 to 20 minutes a day, is proven to improve our outlook on life. Yoga, or any other kind of mindful movement that brings us into presence, helps us to connect to our original “Buddha mind.” Practicing gratitude helps to see that goodness is always happening inside and out.
Feel in your heart how believing in intrinsic goodness makes you feel compared to innate badness. Therein lies the answer.
Reprinted with permission from This-Yoga and Charlene McAuley.
Charlene McAuley - My yoga exploration spans 13 years, teaching for almost seven of those years with varied students, including World Cup footballers and wise 80-year olds. I have an insatiable fascination with movement and psyche, recognizing many years ago through my yoga practice that movement can determine one’s mindset and mindset can determine one’s movement. I work primarily with the ‘here and now,’ wanting to explore what is occurring in the present moment so that I can encourage myself and students to live with more awareness.