The year was 2000 when I really began looking inward. Journaling since I was around eight-years-old wasn't the same as what I would undertake in two undergraduate classes in the psychology program. I created projects that dealt with going as far inward as I could at that time.
The first project was an exploration into visual journaling. In the second project, I focused on working with my anger and developed a system to help me learn about it; what are my triggers, reactions, etc. Being more aware of my angry reactions lessened outbursts and regrettable interactions, but I didn't have an ongoing system to help me until 2011. While training to teach yoga, I learned a method of self-observation and reflection through "the book," which helped me track and change my thoughts and behaviors immensely. After filling almost three of those, I was able to move away from "the book," and continue practicing the Yamas and Niyamas, two of the eight "limbs" of yoga ("Ashtanga Yoga") without needing to document where I did and did not succeed.
I will not go into the meanings of Yama/Niyama here. Instead, I want to share a reflection which cannot be narrowed down to any one of these social and internal observances, but encompasses many.
It's about what happens when we are less forceful with others, more reflective, quieter, and move and speak more gently in the world. After many years of really working at the habitual anger response and reaction, learning about it and its roots, changing my thoughts and behaviors, becoming quieter, I am finding some very important insights and effects that make my inner life more peaceful.
So... For 19 years, I've been working on lessening my angry reactions as a habitual response, having been temperamental since childhood. Some methods proved more successful than others, but getting to the root while practicing gentleness has proven most helpful. I've been getting the hang of it more and more, and so this is a reflection after a loved one threw anger my way, and I, thankfully stayed still, and had a clearer mind as a result to reflect on this more gentle existence, still a work in progress, but a work nonetheless.
Here is my morning reflection:
As my voice becomes quieter in this ongoing training of gentleness, of non-violence, I hear the loud voices around me in new ways.
I hear a desperate cry to be heard.
And yet, in me I cannot offer enough comfort that will satisfy the one crying.
I hear a wish for acceptance.
And yet, in me I cannot offer enough acceptance that will satisfy the one wishing.
I hear a desire to be loved.
And yet, in me I cannot offer enough love that will satisfy the one desiring.
The one who screams for comfort, who yells their wishes, who lashes out,
attempts to force others to give what they cannot provide.
The one whose mouth opens wide, whose voice booms to be seen and heard
does not know that anger blinds, yells deafen, and aggression leads to defense.
Walls do not help, they hinder.
In gentleness, we hear the soft whimper for the soul's need for
self-understanding, self-acceptance, and self-love.
In gentleness, we can ourselves comfort our own soul with open arms of acceptance and love to the ends of the world.
In each of us, we have all we need to feel loved.
Self-generated in the gentle arms of the Divine.