“I’m starting with the man in the mirror.
I’m asking him to change his ways.
I know it can’t be any clearer.
If you want to make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself and make a change.”
Every one of us wants to make the world a better place. Every one of us wants to do something that makes a difference in the world. We all want to be significant, important, a person that is considered valuable and worthwhile. That’s what life is all about, even for plants. They want to grow and produce, flower and shine. All of life wants to make a difference.
The problem is, for humans, where do we start? Sometimes we are even confused about what we want to change or how our individual effort can really make a difference?
Yoga says that we can start anywhere because we are one. We are not just a body, or a mind, or a spirit. We are a conscious being that has a mind and a body that breathes. So, yoga says that when we change anything about ourselves we can change the whole self.
Yoga also says that when we change ourselves, we are changing our destiny and therefore changing all the people we encounter. Actually, we would be changing the entire environment in which we live.
That may seem pretty far-fetched but I know this to be true for myself. When I am worried about a teaching responsibility of mine, I get myself and my mind all tied up in all the things that might go wrong or all the problems that I know I may encounter trying to convey the material that I think is important. As I am negatively fantasizing about my coming responsibility, I notice that I have stopped breathing or am breathing quite actively in my upper chest.
My mind tells me that I need to stop worrying but I don’t seem to stop until I focus on the breath flowing in an out of my nostrils. I begin to feel the cool air come in and the warm air come out and my mind stills. The information that I want to share with my students and how to convey it clearly and effectively begins to flood my mind. Interestingly enough, when I teach the material, the students find it helpful and practical for their personal lives. The content and the ideas, they say, even help them change their behaviors or help them to think differently about a certain situation.
I have effectively changed the world, just by changing how I breathed. Wow! That blows my mind, too!
Another example for me is when I get frustrated and irritated with the way our state or national legislators vote on certain bills that affect me, for instance, the current Farm Bill in Congress. The bill is going to change the definition of “organic” so that large farming and food processing corporations can begin to label their food as organic. They are aware that people want organic food instead of food grown with many chemicals or preserved for a long shelf life. Instead of just complaining inside myself or to my family, I now call my representative and let him know what I think. Sometimes, I had later learned that I was one of a dozen of people who complained about the same thing and the legislator’s mind was changed. My small action of voicing my opinion seemed to change the system of democracy, even if just a little.
My thought of “what difference would it make” was no longer in my head. I just changed my thought to “I want to let him know what I think.” That made a difference.
I realize now that I did make the world a better place because I changed the behavior and thinking of the man in the mirror.
We really are powerful beings!