There is no doubt about it that some people are easier to get on with than others whether they are relatives, work colleagues or people we meet in daily life. There are lots of wonderful, compassionate, kind people around, but in all walks of life there are also people we come across who seem difficult and challenging.
In yoga the concept of balanced energy is pretty important and contributes to the idea of feeling well. At the start of a yoga practice for example it can be useful to ‘check in’ with yourself and be aware of how you feel and your levels of energy-high, low or somewhere in between- to help determine the sort of practice which is going to suit you.
Situations in life and daily events however small can nourish us and help us feel well or they can deplete us of energy. Similarly with people. There are some people who exude a lovely, joyful atmosphere which helps everyone around them feel happy, positive and energised and others seem to drain our energy levels and can leave us feeling exhausted and even ill.
I was reminded of this recently when I had cause to deal with someone who I felt was mean spirited, critical and frankly misguided and I could feel my mood spiralling downwards.
So how can we we prevent people’s mean behaviour affecting us especially at this time of year when we are still in the holiday season of joy?
The concept of ‘ahimsa’ in yogic philsophy is a useful one. Patanjali’s ‘Yoga Sutras’ talks about ‘yamas’ and ‘niyamas’ – which make up a kind of code of ethical and spiritual observances. Ahimsa is the first on the list. It is open to individual interpretation but ahisma is often translated as non harming, non violence or compassion towards ourselves and others. That could include refraining from harmful actions and words- and also thoughts.
So when someone seems particularly mean spirited or unkind, one way of dealing with them is to get caught up in their mood and behaviour and feel despondent, or meet them head on and create even more conflict – all of which is likely to ultimately affect our inner peace and well being. Another way though is to pause, bear in mind that this is only our perception of them and that actually we can choose to look at them in a different, kinder way that does not make us feel so bad.