The only thing to fear, is fear itself. 

Long ago, when my first baby, was still learning to walk without a wobble, I was semi sleeping resting on the couch after a very long day alone with my sweet baby. I hadn’t yet fully taken in the lesson that day’s can be long, but time in those innocent moments is so short, I should savor it, regardless of the sleep deprivation. My husband was away on business and I was missing him, longing for, not just his companionship, but teamwork with the young one. Single parenting is hard, especially when you’re a young novice. 

So there I was, eyes closing, letting go of conscious thoughts as I was too spent to shift to my bed, when suddenly I heard a loud electronic BAA right behind me. I startled awake wondering as I glanced around if I really heard anything. The couch was in a curved shape, big and cozy for a New York City apartment. I liked the curve as I could store things behind it, the clutter of large plastic brightly colored toddler gadgets had become my latest decorating style, but I hadn’t fully adapted the look, so I liked to pretend it wasn’t there, hence behind the curvy couch for my feigned feng shui. I decided I had dreamt the noise, my baby was quietly sleeping ( so shocking at that stage!) as was my dog, it was just a nightmare of weird sounds, so I shook my head, repositioned and closed my eyes, again, a loud BAA! Oh. My. God. My heart almost lept right out of my chest with fear, how could this be happening? It was coming from right behind me, as was the hallway to my front door. My imagination had completely taken over, as I envisioned a psychotic 6’4″ killer standing right behind me, machete raised overhead to strike while he pressed on the sheep button at the kiddie play table hidden by the curve in the couch. 

I have no idea, how I didn’t have a heart attack, or how long it took me to get the courage to look behind me and peak behind the couch. There was nothing there except the big plastic garden containing the farm play table. I’m pretty sure, in looking at the buttons, my realization that the table had a a moo, quack, oink, but no BAA, helped me reach around and grab it. I turned it upside down to the on/off buttons, where in small print, it clearly said, when the batteries need replacing, a curtesy sound of sheep will play randomly. I closed my eyes in relief while manically laughing over the fact Mr. Clean hadn’t broken in to torture me with inane eclectric animal sounds before hacking me to pieces. 

Why do I share this insanity? What is the significance? Well it’s ridiculous and funny, but it also shows just how potent fear can become. Fear can paralyze and take away all rational thought, fear can be stored from past moments and be triggered as if it’s happening again. Fear can make us believe we shouldn’t try, fear takes our breath away if we let it. Fear sucks big time. 

I did turn around though. I did get the courage to look,(though in that time lapse perspective of fear, it could have been a ten second pause or two hours, I’m fascinated how time gets warped with adrenaline) and see it was all just smoke and mirrors of one too many Steven King or Dean Koontz novels in my youth. My chicken little moment of panic had passed. I still see that same fear rise in me, at times. A blessing of my yoga practice, is that my body and breath awareness lets me feel it more mindfully now. No, I haven’t found a magic switch to make it just disappear,nor should it,  but I can at least pause more now, even when my body still physically reacts, I can take a compassionate approach and grasp better choices, with more realistic odds of truth.

This past winter, I walked in on a couple of guys robbing my house at 10 in the morning. It was shocking, it was scary, but they ran off without hurting me or my dogs. They broke a cabinet and my feeling of safety briefly. The police were wonderful, I was surprisingly calm. It was a Thursday and I thought a nice Friday led Ashtanga primary would be just the ticket to soothe my rattled soul. I was mistaken.  Don’t get me wrong, I went through all the right motions, it was right to be there, to try, but my breathing was on high alert, stability was an elusive joke and savassana was a torturous attempt to be still and relax… My body couldn’t release the fear yet, I had used up all its coping mechanisms the day before. 

Because we are all human and have bad days, my teacher, a dear friend, stopped me as I was leaving and  yelled at me for not even trying to surrender my breath during rest. I don’t think yelling at someone to rest is beneficial.   I was so stunned by his anger, I couldn’t explain what had transpired the day before. I just simply stated, I did try, I tried really hard. I’d love to say we recovered from this horrid moment in time, but alas, with a culmination of closeness breeding contempt, I left a few weeks later midway through my practice, realizing I had lost trust and faith. There was more to it, as it’s never just one reason, but it was the right decision even though it hurt to do it. I knew I was hurting myself more by staying. I don’t blame either of us, just the circumstances of where we each had been in on our own bullshit, I didn’t even like to practice anymore. 

Communication isn’t always easy when fear is part of the equation, but we can always communicate with prayer, especially the Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness.

“If I have harmed any one in any way,

either knowingly or unknowingly

through my own confusions,

I ask their forgiveness.

If any one has harmed me in any way,

either knowingly or unknowingly

through their own confusions,

I forgive them.

And if there is a situation

I am not yet ready to forgive,

I forgive myself for that.

For all the ways that I harm myself,

negate, doubt, belittle myself,

judge or be unkind to myself,

through my own confusions,

I forgive myself.” 

 The practice of yoga transcends individual frailties. I realized I had to put things into perspective and move on. 

I’m back home again, at least that’s how it feels, back where I first started practicing Ashtanga. I’m very lucky to have my first teacher take me in and advise me to just learn to enjoy it again.  It has been very healing, for both my body and mind, like comfort food for the soul. I’m smiling during practice again, enjoying chuckling when I screw something up, knowing the practice will take all the time it needs to find the steadiness, and hopefully now, I will have a bit more patience, and let go of the fear, and take rest. 

Advertisements

These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.

Perception and preconceived ideas can be beneficial, like knowing fire is hot, however, there are times we take past knowledge or fears and make assumptions that are not true, creating a false narrative in the psyche. Just as the placebo effect can do wonders in helping, the nocebo effect can do just as much damage. The mind can lead us down dark paths and dead ends. Just this morning, I heard more than one student say,” I can’t do it.” It doesn’t matter if it is a third backbend, lotus, Mari D, or something else. Trusting errant thoughts of frustration or fear only creates tension and a sure set up for failure. The only failure is in not trying. Its never about the can not, or the final aspects of fulling getting into the asana, it’s about trying, giving it a shot, seeing if today anything works better than yesterday. 

I’ve been figuring this out in my own mind lately as well. I have been bemoaning what I thought was a flare of RA since I came back from India over a year ago. I came home sick, and was treated by a great infectious disease specialist, but I failed to really follow up on my aches and exhaustion, because I thought it was my rheumatoid arthritis.  My hands have been pretty bad, so I thought why bother, just keep up all my usual routine. I avoided going to the rheumotologist because I didn’t want to know how bad it was, but finally relented about a month ago, figuring it’s better to have an idea of what is going on as I was dealing with such terrible pain in my hands. Tests, X-rays, blood work, hurry up and wait ten days for all the results…

The good news was this was not RA. I am quite happily still in full remission, to the point that if my X-rays and past tests didn’t show it, the doctor wouldn’t believe that I have had an auto immune disorder. The bad news was the illness I had in India could take up to 18 months to fully work out of my system, and most of the symptoms were tied to that. Quite exciting to know its not permanent and just some lasting repercussions that will go away, except for my hands. My hands are a different beast, from my own creation, yes I have residual damage in some joints, yes I have some pain from the illness last year, but as well, somewhere in this point of pushing past the aches, I gave myself avulsion fractures in my knuckles of both middle fingers which snowballed into hurting other parts of my hands as I was unaware but physically avoiding putting any weight of length in my middle fingers. The X-rays show the breaks happened, most likely last summer from over gripping somewhere. In this as well, was the mindset, that this was how my hands were, and what I don’t know, is by compensating for the nocebo effect going on in my head, I made it worse and created the tension and restrictions in my body because my mind told me that was how it had to be. 

So, I’ve been pondering my assumptions of thinking I had a flare, versus a pain level of fractured fingers that I ignored because my preconceived thoughts deduced the worst case scenario instead of the possibility of something else entirely.  Far less frightening to me, though still screwed up, because who breaks their own fingers and doesn’t know it?!? I’m hoping for no long term repercussions, beyond bone chips. I am seeing a hand specialist just to make sure I won’t do more harm as it continues to resolve. 

In any case, I was wrong. I keep thinking about it, because of how much my mind had led me to believe everything was a symptom of RA. If I was tired, if my stamina was off, if anything hurt, my stomach, my eyes, you name it, it was RA, not even a remote possibility of anything else. Yes, everything I felt was real, but was it as dramatic and helpless as I rigidly made it into in my mindset of trying to persevere to the point of fracturing my fingers? I, in retrospect, had needed to follow up with my infectious disease specialist further and also taken it more easy in my initial recovery. But hey hindsight is always 20/20. Though I still trust myself, I have made a conscientious decision not to self diagnose and create limits, especially ones that lead me to injury!  Might I have been easier on myself gripping, I’m guessing my mat trying to creep into kapo, if I felt it was weakness from my illness, and had more patience than I obviously do for a flare. How much extra tension had the simmering fear created? How much excessive muscle tension went into my movements instead of the reverse relaxing to explore the possibilities of today being unique, of each day just getting to the mat and seeing what could be stabile and calm instead of feared, whether on a conscious level or nor, the mind stores our Samskaras and feeds us a narrative that does not always match the truth. 

It comes and goes

What’s your motivation? Like most people I vacillate between various states, I’d say there are really just two underlying everything, love and fear. When love is in charge, all is good, even when it’s not, because there is empathy, compassion, clarity, understanding, among other positive points, however, fear, though at times helpful, brings out worry, anger, irrational thoughts, impulsive choices, and stress. Firefighters are helpful when needed but they break doors and windows to get the job done…in other words you don’t need to pull out the cannons to get rid of the anthill, keep perspective! 

About three weeks ago, I started noticing a new pain in the top of my hands. It came on suddenly one morning, so badly I couldn’t put any weight into them, especially the right. I couldn’t do a sun salutation at all, and I panicked. I knew aging and my Rheumotoid arthritis could alter my practice, but I never thought I’d lose a basic down dog. It scared me, badly. I mean, seriously, yoga helped me through my worst, first starting out, what could I do without being able to put any weight in my hands? I freaked out inside because if a flare could take away this, I just wanted to give up…..( fear negating rational and compassionate thought!) 

I went into denial on the outside. I wrapped my right hand for support, went back to practice and teaching the next day popping a couple of Advil. But I wasn’t ok, I was afraid. Afraid of losing control, and as a recovering control freak, this was unpleasant at best. I haven’t always been so kind to myself, everyone is their own worst critic usually, and I can admit, my self loathing had been a consistent piece of who I was, until I found peace on the mat and forgiveness in my failures. I clearly remember the first moment that sensation of compassion filled my heart, ( yet even as I write that statement, I hear Arnold Schwarzenegger in my head from The Terminator talking about skynet becoming self aware..lol) it was overwhelming in the best way…yet as a human being, I forgot to remember it’s ok to still fail at times in things we don’t usually fail. Oh the joys of a monkey brain! 

The most remarkable part of this is I didn’t figure out why I was being such a crazed impatient psycho until I was quietly suffering from a massive panic attack during intense turbulence on a flight down to the Caribbean for a family vacation last week. I was breathing through it, knowing the competence of the pilot, knowing the logic of the safety of air travel, when it dawned on me, I wasn’t in control of the plane, just like I felt I wasn’t in control of my illness.  I had forgotten to have faith because I had let fear be my motivator for the past few weeks in just about everything, instead of love. 

What’s funny is about a month prior I had reached out to anatomy guru, David Keil, for insight on how to keep my grips with a crappy pincher grasp due to this on going flare, his response was awesome, but at the time I wanted something more concrete: 

I think you know the answer to your own questions. But just in case you need to hear it from someone else…. Modify as necessary when you’re flaring. More importantly, work on the inner judge who is having a problem with the modifications when they’re necessary. Look at the frustration, which of course is anger. Be compassionate to yourself.

The asanas themselves are not that important, but how you relate to doing them is critical for growth.

Om shanti,

David

Yes, how I relate to doing them. In other words, motivation through love of trying not fear of failing. Thank you David! 

The week away of vitamin D did me well to soothe my soul, relax and let go of the fear…the view didn’t hurt either!  

 

As for practice on vacation? Everyday, nice and smooth, I’m happy to say, with the toughest part in picking where…the tile floor of the hotel room or the “sanctuary” room off the gym, that had the uncanny ability to blast Party Rock Anthem while attempting kapotasana:) I went for the music distractions over the cement floor. 

 

Let it go and surrender.

 

 

The first time I ever did a full led primary, I can’t say I enjoyed it. Alas, I was proficient at that point up to navasana but admittedly the next few asana fell in the you’ve got to be kidding me category. I mean seriously, my legs and arms just balked at the places they were supposed to end up and I think I may have had tears in my eyes at my feeble attempt at suptakormasana, which in turn made me angry with myself for even having an ego about it at all. I didn’t yet own yoga clothes and practiced mostly in my pajama bottoms and a tank top. I also thought lululemon was pronounced lulumon…my daughters still make fun of me for that one. I was a rebel without a clue. My research had been about philosophy versus spandex. ( I still have my favorite rainbow striped pants that I break out for home practice some days when I really need it:)) I can openly say if someone told me the next sentence would be truths at some future point, I would not have believed them. I not only love led primary but as well, went through a morning process when I switched over to a daily intermediate practice. In all honesty, to the point I could have sabotaged any further progress and reverted back. 

Time and dedication change many things. Those next few poses in primary have become enjoyable places of stillness. I still am waiting to enjoy kapotasana, I respect it, I’m stabile in it and do it as part of my daily, but the love hasn’t fully developed yet..I still hoping for it! A sense of humor helps. I can even breathe well in it about half the time, and I’m finally past the hump of all the leg behind the head asana messing with my backbend…Yet, led day of primary has everything I covet about practice, it’s dynamic, sweaty, intense, yet soul soothing and such a profound meditative movement,  at least when my mind cooperates! This piece is what I’m hoping to regain in intermediate series if my body and mind allow it. 

The fluidity of the asana becomes ingrained to allow surrender to where ever I am.  Letting go of trying for more breaths, deeper bends, a tighter bind, or confident balance and just finding the tipping point past effort to experiencing calm and ease. Yes it exists in some places. Even in my most challenging asana, on some days during intermediate it exists, and in that I know, it can eventually become the norm instead of the occasional experience but alas not yet, just like that first led primary. 

What’s your hurry? 

Sometimes in an asana, I notice something seems off, tight, unstable, or just not as deep as I know I’ve felt it go before. The beauty in these moments occurs when I allow myself to notice it without too much angst or frustration . Not that I’m completely letting it go, but instead just trying to figure out why it’s happening from a point of no ego. (Is there such a place? Ha..I don’t know. Maybe minimal ego…) 

I had it happen this week. My up dogs just felt funky lately. My back bend didn’t seem as comfortable and pinched slightly in my low back, going into my legs. Nothing too major, but it seemed to flow throughout practice. I couldn’t tell if it was physical, and where it was possibly originating. A mystery that I hoped wasn’t the start of anything bigger. My other back bends were fine, at least as far as not being painful or restrictive, even if not always as deep as I like. 

The first day or two it happened, I just went with it, noticing the change, but not really figuring out the mystery. Sometimes, these things just slowly ebb away, the same way they creep in. However, I decided to not just fixate on my up dog, but instead feel how each movement of my sun salutations and  vinyasas were feeling. I found the answer. It was all about chaturanga. 

If you’ve ever practiced with Sharath, he has this terrifying way of saying, “what’s your hurry?”, meaning to stay there. It’s especially challenging while everyone is in chatarunga. He greatly dislikes, I thought at least, when someone during led class moves faster than his count in sun salutations and vinyasas. Sharath will hold everyone in chaturanga until the perpetrator comes back to the asana…oh the pain of chilling out in a low plank. I will admit, as I’ve experienced this hold for what seems like an eternity. I’m usually breathing intensely by the end of it, possibly cursing whomever this hapless creature is that has gone out of sync, grateful at the same time that I don’t know, because then I can’t lash out at them to get with the program as my body is shaking from the lengthened hold.

As I was flowing though my first sun salutation, trying to uncover my mystery,  I hit into chaturanga and boom, his expression popped in my head. What’s your hurry? Exactly. I realized in my efficiency of jumping right into my low plank, I wasn’t giving myself time to take a complete exhale. I admit, it was subtle, but yet in concentrating on the basics in each asana of breath, bundha, and dristhi, I realized how fast that component had become and I wasn’t giving myself the few extra seconds of time holding in the asana to finish exhaling. I was so full of stale air, I wasn’t able to take a full inhale in my up dog to allow it to fully express. I started laughing because I finally understood Sharath’s point, it really wasn’t about him wanting us to stay in synch on his count, but to breathe properly in order to do it right. In any case, I haven’t cured cancer or discovered the secret to world peace, but hey, I’m taking a full exhale in chaturanga  now, and I can attest, the difference is quite remarkable, regardless of it being noticible to anyone else. 

Sometimes in practice, these pieces of the puzzle become rote. It’s not so much taken for granted, as just focus has shifted and slowly, insidiously, we start making changes that eventually detract versus enhance progress. There is never such a thing as perfecting the process, just evolving, and noticing with more relaxed but still active intention. I always set intentions before practice, sometimes intellectually or spiritually, but as well physically. I will occasionally put more focus on bundhas, or dristhi, alignment, how high I’m getting my jump back, there is always something to improve or study. So, for now, I’ve decided to notice my exhales, and inhales for that matter, throughout practice when I remember too at least, for now., in how fully I’m capable of breathing. Each side is equally important. Trying to witness the power each breath can enhance in an asana, the exhale of surrender and the inhale of strength and energy. Still learning to breathe…The journey never ends, but awareness is always the first part of change. 

Oh oh Its Magic, you know, never believe it’s not so. 

“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” ― W.B. Yeats 





Though I forget this all the time, asana practice is about the overall journey, not the asana itself. In being honest, of course I want to do the asana I’m attempting. I want to figure it out, and find that place of peaceful stability, regardless of how challenging or dynamic, that place does exist. Elusive as it may seem, and variable from day to day, maintaining a steady, calm breath in the most intense asana, can and does happen occasionally. 

I admit, many times, when I first saw someone else try to balance on one leg, headstand, drop backs, legs behind their heads, lotus, lotus in a forearm handstand, Mari D, heck even a foreword fold with a straight back, all these and more, had my mind in a tizzy thinking that is never going to happen. I was in awe, and thought, how am I thinking that I belong in a room with a group of people who could run off and join the circus? I would shake my head thinking I’m just the clown and not a very good one at that because, I’m too fraught with anxiety to laugh at these impossible feats. Doubt, fear, lack of experience, or conversely past failures all used to overwhelm my senses and place imaginary limitations on my capabilities. How much of what we don’t do is based on thinking we can’t because we never have? Just because it may not seem likely, does not mean an asana is out of reach. The mind truly is more rigid than the body. 

In no particular order, here are things I have found to make the process easier. 

We are unique. Stop comparing yourself to anyone else, please. Aspirations are one thing, but envy will get you no where but angry. Personal bests come to mind. We are not just shaped different physically, but with different strengths and weaknesses. That super flexy pretzel in the corner may have no stamina or strength, the amazing inversion guy might have such tight shoulders, his back bend goal is just to get beyond a half bridge, the flat backed folder may not have any twisting capability what so ever. Finally, even if someone looks “good” doing it, it doesn’t mean they don’t still struggle everyday, that the challenge isn’t there, because, it is, it’s just about something different than your own.

Come to practice clean and empty, if you can. A hot shower not only loosens you up, but keeps you from focusing on smelling or feeling dirty when you sweat. Anything in your stomach will just look for a way out, and is uncomfortable at best. 

Say the opening chant to yourself, and/or set a positive intention when you get on your mat. It sets the mind to a place a gratitude right from the start.

Learn to breathe. Let the asana teach you how to breathe, that is just one of the many gifts practice gives back. Steady, equal breaths timed to movement are the key to any forward progress. If it becomes labored, find a safe rest place like tadasana, dandasana, down dog or up dog to hold until your breathing calms during Mysore practice. Be compassionate but aware. 

Relax. Surrender to the process. Twists happen when we stop grasping and start paying attention. Tension in the mind, creates tension in the body, tightening muscles instead of lengthening. The first time I really felt right in pashasana was when I, in pure exhaustion, let my weight go completely into my feet and released all the tension from my shoulders and spine. 

Let yourself be a witness instead of a participant in an assist sometimes. Body awareness can be different from one limb to another, let yourself feel how the instructor worked your body into it instead of rushing to help them, just pay attention. 

Hint of a smile. In otherwords, don’t be too serious. There are no failures, just attempts that didn’t work. Laugh when you can, accept your flaws with compassion, they won’t get any better with a critical lens but a receptive one. Allow yourself a chance to grow and learn. Non-attachment at its finest! 

Show up. Come to the mat everyday you can. If you don’t make an effort, nothing will change. Even if you only have 15 minutes, do your sun salutations and a simple closing. I promise, you will feel better for the grounding you’ve given yourself for the day, and your body will thank you next time you get in a longer practice.

Stability matters. It’s how the asana feels, not how it looks. I know, when teaching, I’m looking to align, but it’s not to help for the pretty selfie, but to prevent injury and for the stability of the Self. 

The action is everywhere. Each asana recreates tadasana or dandasana, so to speak. No matter what else you are attempting, your feet, hands, head and spine are on duty, engaged and dynamic, but not tense! 

Flourish is pretty but not necessary. Learn to be efficient instead of fidgety. Take the time to learn the steps to get into an asana, but once you do, work on consolidating the steps to the proper breath count. Save your energy for the practice, stamina grows over time, give it a chance to happen. 

Bundhas are the base. Once you find your bundhas, everything becomes easier. Check in on hooking your engagement of bundhas at the start of each count, right before your first inhale, if you can’t find them, you are not stabile. 

Dristhi. The looking place ties it all together. Outward distractions can’t take hold if your gaze stays close and focused. It’s hard enough to quiet inside the mind without worrying about what’s happening across the room. 

Stop thinking with perimeters that limit your mind’s perception of what you can and can not do. Self defeating mind sets halt the limitless potential of possibilities. Let trust overcome fear. Never give up, but please surrender to the process. 

Build heat, work to the best of your capabilities that day and sweat! Internal heat is an important piece of the puzzle. 

Don’t skimp on your closing sequence. If you don’t have time for a full practice, this is not the area to leave out. Regardless of where your struggles may be, keep away your ego of progressing forward if today is not the day, avoid rushing and leave enough time to close and rest. The closing inversions and lotus postures all work at bringing the benefits of practice to the right places. As well, “taking rest” calms your breathing to a regular pace at the end of practice so you can be fresh for the rest of your day. 

Patience. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Enjoy the journey. Do your practice and all is coming. 

Standing on my soapbox, empathy is not a dirty word. 

I have a confession to make, I get really frustrated by judgements. I know, I know, that in of it self is judgemental, I guess. But why is karma a bitch? Why if I exhude positive vibration should I only expect positive results? Why does the expression what comes around goes around used to take satisfaction in another’s problems or punishments?  None of these thoughts are compassionate, because sometimes bad things happen, to everyone.

About a month or so ago, an acquaintance I’ve known about five years, overheard me giving someone encouragement about recovering from an ailment that I had myself some time ago, she has seen snapshots so to speak, of some of the challenges in my life. Her response was to turn around and chime in, saying something like, “Oh my god! What have YOU done to deserve all this?!” The first thought that popped in my head was, not a fucking thing, but thanks for assuming the worst of me, like I deserve any of this crap! Instead, though, I took a breath and chuckled at my thoughts before saying out loud, “I am just grateful to be alive, I don’t view it that way.” A completely true statement. 

Of course I get upset, doubt, cry, throw pity parties, wake up cranky for no good reason, yell, just like every other person on this incredible planet, but I hope that the love I feel in my heart outweighs all that. Life isn’t fair. It’s not doled out in measured increments of hardships and pleasures based on how kind or good you are. I refuse to make that subjective list, claiming how I’m better than someone else, because it’s not that clear cut, and it’s not for me to decide. The choices come from how we handle things. Living in envy, woe, or anger is poison to the soul. Does it matter who wins the lottery?  We can’t always control what happens, just our reaction to it. 

Life is filled with consequences to our actions, that is karma. Karma on the other hand is not a baby born with cerebral palsy, getting cancer, having a drunk driver crash into you, being raped…I could go on as there are so many tragic and painful episodes living in this world, but to claim karma is using me as a pawn beholden to pain and suffering is just a sick petty version of victim shaming. 

If I walk around like an ass all day, chances are I won’t be treated very well, that is karma. If I’m smiling and happy all day, most likely I’ll be met with smiles as well, again karma. Me burning my hand today making a Dutch bunny? A distracted accident, and a lesson learned about metal handles staying really hot, even ten minutes out of the oven! Lying, cheating, stealing, reckless behavior all have logical consequences…and choosing to try to understand or empathize with someone’s bad behavior does not condone it, but it might lead to a positive step in halting further bad behavior. Be an activist, but do it with compassion instead of anger. Awareness comes before change. Ignorance can only be enlightened through receptive knowledge. 

Though I’m sure I’ve said this before, I find I’m most critical when I’m not happy with something in my own life. It would be nice if we could just look inward to our own actions and thoughts as those are truly the only ones under our command. Be grateful for something, anything. Make a Dutch bunny! It won’t make life an easier, but it tastes delicious, just use on oven mitt!