Living Your Life As an Example to Others
“Make of yourself a light,” said the Buddha, before he died.” Mary Oliver
Wanting people to change can become one of your biggest challenges as you transform your own life with diet, yoga and meditation practice. As you begin to experience many of the positive benefits that come along with this way of living, such as feeling lighter in your body, more relaxed, more mentally patient, aware and focused and much less anxious; you’ll want to share your experience with the people around you so they will feel as good as you do. Surprise! They not only don’t always want to hear about it, they may not want to make the sacrifice of time and effort to change their lives.
Don’t take it personally. Most importantly try not to preach or lecture about how they should “be.” After all, you got it, so they should be able to “get it” as well, right? Not always. Most people don’t like to be told what to do; they don’t like to hear that “if you don’t eat healthy and meditate you’re going to be lost.” Much as they might appreciate your concern for their well-being they prefer to do it their own way, and that usually means in their own time, if at all.
When my students tell me about how difficult it is to get their loved ones to take a yoga class or eat a healthy diet, I tell them just to take care of themselves, do their own practice and teach by example. Naturally, this requires a bit of patience, since they want to share what is important in their lives with their mates and friends, but I have found that those around you will notice the positive changes by the way you live your life. Actions speak louder than words. Toward the end of his life the Buddha told his followers to be a light by which others may see. He meant that by your actions and your deeds you will lead others to transform their lives.
So how do you get your message across?
Simply by living with a pure mind (what the Buddhist’s call parami, the yogis call the Yamas and Niyamas, and Christians call grace), you will attract those people who are ready to ask “what are you doing that gives you this calm and joy in your life?” Through the practice of yoga and meditation and the quality of your actions in daily living you can create a state of pure mind.
A scattered and distracted mind is careless and unable to see the results of its actions. It has no patience or tolerance for those it encounters from day to day. With yoga and meditation you cultivate insight awareness, which gives you a calm mind—one that’s able to see that all is changing and impermanent. There is nothing to cling to or grasp at; and as you experience the flow of life in and around you, you can let go and surrender to the immediate moment.
There is no way to push your loved ones towards this state of being. The journey must be theirs alone and may or may not unfold in time. Instead stay focused on your journey and invite them to explore what it is you are doing. If they choose to go their own way, refrain from judging, maintain your practice and continue peacefully on your path.