Ever had a difficult person in your life? Of course you have, I suppose you would be most unusual if you didn’t.
Sometimes we can walk away from those people who make us feel uncomfortable, or even worse, downright miserable. But suppose that isn’t a viable choice? Maybe it is a work colleague, or a family member, or someone who for whatever reason you have to keep seeing, what then?
There is a yogic practice called Dharana, it is one of Patanjali’s 8 limbs actually. (One of the practices Patanjali suggests we work with to help us to experience our natural state of Yoga, or Universal Consciousness, or Reality.) It has to do with focus and concentration, and a simple example would be when we stand in tree pose in the yoga room, where we use all our concentration and focus to balance.
But that’s not what I want to go on about here. I want to talk instead about a subset of Dharana called Bhavana. Having a difficult person in your life might be the perfect opportunity to practice a bhav.
That means trying out putting yourself into that person’s shoes and imagining what their life might be like.
Yes, spend some time in contemplation actually feeling what that person’s life might be like. The things that may have affected their outlook, the things that they do with their day, the people that they have in their life, and so on. Really mull it over and feel what it might be like to be that person.
Whenever I have done this I have come to the same conclusion, that we are all just doing our best to make our way in this world. We all have times where we make choices, and rather than judge someone’s choices as right or wrong, perhaps we can accept a situation with a bit more love and compassion.
Practicing a bhav may well help us to see that the difficult person has feelings of insecurity or inadequacy.
For me, this brings feelings of compassion for that person who I may have been tempted to judge.
It doesn’t mean I condone people who are cruel, or bitchy and spiteful. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel hurt by cruelty and meanness. It doesn’t mean putting up with obviously harmful behaviour either. But it does open up a space in me to accept and be loving. It means I don’t have to bite back with a smart comment. It means I don’t have to withhold love. It means I can accept that person as they are. Perhaps they don’t seem quite so difficult.
After all, we are all perfectly human, perfectly divine, perfectly imperfect!
You might like to give it a go. I would love to hear back in the comments below.