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Compassion is the Point and What's Your Spirit Animal?

September 26, 2016

As far as spirit animals go, I’ve officially assigned myself one. It’s a big day!


I. Am. Owl.



The Observational Owl to be precise.  I took a spirit animal test a few months ago during a slow hour at work. I try to only participate in things like “The Spirit Animal Test You Can Trust”  (I can’t remember what it was really called.) when I’m getting paid and I’m out of job productivity ideas. This particular test labeled me as a wolf. I couldn’t emotionally relate to the results so I took it into my own hands to let time reveal my true spirit animal to me. Oh, geez…  Am I hearing myself right? Yeah, I guess I went ahead and “let time reveal” what my spirit animal is (Time is also revealing my weirdness.).  Okay, so I chose Owl in part because observing the flux of life, myself, people, places, things, is fascinating to me. And do you know what I’ve concluded lately? People are basically good and deserving of compassion (I added the compassion part.). I remember hearing that philosophy back in high school around the time  we were studying Lord of the Flies I think.  Remember this novel? The plane crashes on the island leaving the “scar” on the land and the surviving British schoolboys run around wild without rules, and there’s a conch shell, and they kill a wild boar, and someone has asthma and Piggy dies? Basically, humans go to Hell in a handbag when left lawless because we’re savages at heart. (And can I just say at this time that it’s an outrage I didn’t pass my AP Literature test? I’m so good at plot summary and analysis.) I do think we have our animalistic tendencies but I’m sticking with people are basically good. Even people who continually demonstrate douche bag tendencies are…basically good, says I the Observational Owl.

I’m sure most of you have discovered J.P. Sears’ YouTube channel? I love that funny guy. He makes light of everything I hold dear and I adore him for it. He gives me perspective and keeps the humble pie served. You’ve seen the one about yoga poses for Instagram, right? Click here if you haven’t. This YouTube really was the inspiration for this post. That and this meme I saw on one of the yoga feeds I follow on Instagram.



(Did you read this post thinking you’d discover your spirit animal today? I tricked you! Buuuut, actually, who says you won’t?)  I’m everywhere today and my writing is a reflection of it. Just love me.


The yoga world is an interesting place. I’m sure you could say the same for any ‘world’ you’re apart of. Within my yoga world I swear to you I have seen so much. Not everything, and the future is always surprising, but I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen physical and emotional progress being made on the daily, sweating it out or breathing through it on a mat. So much good. I’ve seen gigantic egos being hefted around on shoulders that appear “soft and relaxed…falling away from the ears”. I’ve seen quiet but profound moments of enlightenment within myself and others. I’ve seen cut throat competition. I’ve seen kindness and love for each other like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve seen loving kindness, Metta, being taught and not practiced or only being practiced within a “tribe” or “circle”, but not to supposed enemies. That’s not a true loving kindness practice. (Side note: The definition of “tribe” in the Oxford Dictionary begins with “a social division…” Don’t we have enough social divisions? Let’s be careful with the words we use, friends. If we must have a “tribe”, let’s let it be all of humanity. No exclusions. I promise to make a conscious effort to do better at eliminating exclusivity.) I hope this doesn’t offend anyone. It shouldn’t. The only reason I have seen these things is because all that I observe is a projection of what I’ve seen to one degree or another within myself. It’s a humbling thought and one that I’m growing more and more aware of. Yogis (and please insert any interest group you like in place of yogis.) are not necessarily more enlightened, kinder, less critical or more balanced than any other group of people. Nah, we’ve all got something we are dealing with that brings out the angry monster side.


“The reason I like to do yoga photo shoots is, it’s probably the most effective way for me to bring love and light into the world.” -J.P. Sears



The story behind this little snapshot of ‘Salt Lake Serenity’ (that’s what I’m calling it.)  is this: My friend and I took a drive out to Antelope Island for the views and to possibly take some yoga photos. I didn’t just happen to be here freezing my bum cheeks off standing on this sharp, salty rock in natarajasana. No way. We planned it. And I had just finished unloading the hurts of my heart on my friend’s tender, loving ears and I was feeling like a real jerk about it. My insides were an anxious mess and the salad I’d eaten for dinner was doing nothing for me so I was starving. And cold. Did I mention it was cold? Needless to say, though I may look somewhat composed and serene I was feeling far from it.


What’s my point?


Compassion. Have some. For Everyone. Things are not what they appear to be sometimes for the good or for the bad.


We’ve come on a strange little journey through this post, from spirit animals to Lord of the Flies to people are basically good to J.P. Sears to yogis are nut jobs too and landing at this. Everyone is doing the best they can whether it looks like it or not. We were not asked to judge. We are asked to love. Matthew 5:44-46, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?”. It’s a tall order, but that’s what we are asked to do. Regardless of our religion or spirituality we are to be compassionate because we are part of humanity. There is nothing separate or exclusive about any of us. Whenever I see a situation that I want to get my little judgy mits on, if I’ll just take pause and reflect on times when I have been in similar shoes, goodness… There but for the grace of God go I.  I would hope someone would find me basically good when I demonstrate MY douche bag tendencies (Am I really going to quote scripture and say “douche bag” in the same paragraph? Yes. Yes, I am.), and let’s be honest, whether in private or in public, we all have our moments. Don’t we all hope that the public at large or individuals at large would forgive us and see us in our strivings to be better?


“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

                                                                          -Pema Chödrön


With ourselves and others, be kind. Be gentle. Be compassionate. And I’ll leave it at that, my friends. I’ll leave it at that.



Juicy Jam Session: I feel like I should have something that relates to compassion today, but I don’t. Sorry. I’ve been listening to Kaleo a bunch. I probably wouldn’t have made it through a brutal set of burpees the other day if Way Down We Go hadn’t streamed through. Workout saver. Also, No Good is… mmmmm… so good. I’m not used to sounds like this coming from Iceland. Björk and Sigur Rós are most of my Icelandic music exposure. Anyway, these bros can bring it.  And I happily accept.


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