Awhile ago I was exploring the yamas and niyamas of yoga, known as yoga’s ethical guidelines, and stumbled upon one nugget that’s helped me a fair amount in my daily life off the mat. I was reading about Ahimsa, which translates into non-harming, of others and self. Mahatma Gandhi described it as “not to injure any creature by thought, word or deed”.
I inherited quite an active worry gene from my mother, especially when it comes to my kids. My kids are now young adults, with their share of stresses and struggles, and at times I worry about them as if they were helpless little ones, usually keeping myself up in the middle of the night. I came across an idea by Deborah Adele, who says that “worrying about others is a form of violence.” At first this left me shocked. Didn’t I worry about them because I loved them so much? How could this hurt them? Adele explains that when we worry about others, we rob them of their personal power to manage their own challenges. Rather than worrying, she suggests offering support and encouragement.
I’ve been turning this over in my mind and my practice and this is how it’s evolved for me. When I catch myself worrying about someone, I turn the worry into a loving kindness message, and visualize the person in all these lovely states:
May my loved one be well.
May my loved one be peaceful and at ease.
May my loved one be happy.
May my loved one be full of loving kindness.
I’ve read that there’s evidence of improved wellness for people when experienced mindfulness practitioners meditate on their well-being. Regardless, this practice helps me feel more at peace and more hopeful for my loved ones. I sleep better at night, and when I communicate with them, I’m able to convey genuine faith in their ability. It also helps if I sing myself a little Bobby McFerrin…Don’t Worry, Be Happy.