Why practice to say ‘no’

It’s easy. It’s either Yes or No. It can’t be that hard, can it? If a simple yes/no question turns into a question whether or not you dare to say No, it can be that hard! Saying No without feeling guilty, disrespectful or simply like a “bad friend” can be a tough choice. Until I came across this beautiful and powerful mantra…

My favourite Mantra

 Maitri Adishu Balani
Through friendliness, kindness and compassion, strength comes.
PYS III.24

The moment I came across this mantra I had a feeling it would stick.  I was not really sure why I felt such a strong connection but nonetheless, I made it an integral part of my daily practice. It had helped me to channel and direct the friendliness, kindness and compassion to those around me. Especially to those who challenge me. In the end however, it did so much more than that…

Making this mantra an elemental part of my practice made me realize that too often, I try to be friendly, kind, and compassionate solely to those around me, hoping that it would affect people’s behavior or habits and made intense relationships more easy or joyful. Of course, encountering the world with kindness and compassion does make a huge difference and shall be part of everybody’s ambitions. However, I believe friendliness, kindness and compassion will be longer-lasting when we start with ourselves. Because in the end, all I can do is look at myself and start right there. That is also when I figured out that I have left out an essential aspect, maybe even the most essential one of this beautiful mantra. I forgot to be friendly, kind, and compassionate with myself.

Don’t forget about Yourself

I have found it, and still do, extremely difficult to include my own self in the practice of kindness and compassion. Too many times, I agree to things that I do not fully support or say Yes while all I really want to say is No. I am not saying that you shouldn’t help other. I genuinely believe that We rise by lifting others!
What I am talking about are situations where, in the end, it is all about pleasing others or living up to somebody else’s expectations or even worse, acting according to what others believe is right or wrong. If we manage to free ourselves from such acting, we can live and authentically act from our hearts, a place of pure friendliness, kindness, and compassion. And then I believe, it will be even more effortless to share it with others, including those that challenge you or that you sometimes wish would direct more of such friendliness, kindness, and compassion at you.

So in the end, it is not only about saying what you mean, but also truly meaning what you say. And that can be and sometimes even should be a No. Saying No and giving a clear, determined but kind explanation why you chose to say No or chose to act differently from what might be expected from you, helps to understand and avoid misunderstandings. I find it becomes easier, the more you practice. Like anything in Yoga…

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