In Deepak Chopra's Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, there is a Law for each day of the week. Monday is for the Law of Giving. He writes, "Today, bring whoever you encounter a gift: a compliment or flower. Gratefully receive gifts. Keep wealth circulating by giving and receiving care, affection, appreciation and love."
You don't have to practice yoga, asana or otherwise, to see the power in this. One might at first think all the benefits would be in what the other person receives. But it very much is in the giving where the power resides.
My husband does not practice yoga, at least not asana. However, he has been studying mindfulness through the lens of Stoicism, by reading Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" and listening to podcasts like the Daily Stoic. During our morning chats (however brief in our busy-ness) we find like-minded intersection on mindfulness topics like: putting space between stimuli and reaction, and comparing perception versus observation.
As an introvert his internal struggles often lend themselves toward rumination, and that can turn toward darkness and even depression. He shared with me recently something he does that is quite yoga-like, without him having studied the Sutras, or Eight Limbs at all.
He said that when he feels that downward spiral starting (especially at work), he takes a break, gets up, and finds someone to give positive feedback, like, "You did a good job today." I asked him how this helps, to get his analysis. He said, it takes him out of his own head, and he feels better making someone else feel good.
I've been trying to use the language of yoga to describe the process, and so far I've come up with this:
- He makes a mindful observation about the effect his thoughts have on his well being
- I think of this as pratyahra and dharana, or withdrawing the senses and concentrating. he is tuning IN and becoming aware of his state (of mind). He also is aware he wants to change it as he feels it is doing him harm (ahimsa is non-harming).
- Taking action, using discipline or practice is tapas. He needs to put his idea of changing his state of mind into action, and practice regularly to have it work, have the desired effect.
- The action itself creates something positive for the recipient. This gift is part of the the "Law of Giving" and is a positive action for his karma (life actions). It creates happiness for both people (ananda) or even bliss (samadhi).
Perhaps someone out there has another way of analyzinng in terms of philosophy, but the gist of it is that the mindful approach, the desire to change, and willingness to create that change all result in a shift in energy. In sum, his perception of his mental state improves, so even if the stressors are the same, he has put some space between himself and his reaction to them. That space includes a positive energetic exchange with another person.
The present is a gift. We have that to give to ourselves. Enjoy your day, enjoy your yoga.