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Your Attitude is Yours to Choose

It was a rough week

Allow me to set the scene for you before I dive into this essay. I was having one of “those” weeks. I was way too busy to deal with complications, but life didn’t seem to care. If something could go wrong, it did.

Four days into my week, I awakened to an email informing me that my car had been ticketed yet again at work. Appealing these tickets is actually a pretty straightforward process, but on that particular morning of that particular week, it was just “one more thing” I couldn’t handle. I decided to ask for help.

I combed through some ancient emails (I knew there was a reason I keep them!) to find one I remembered from a woman in the parking office who had cheerfully helped me change my assigned lot a few years ago. I sent her a note explaining that I suspected there was a problem with my parking permit and asked her what I needed to do to fix it.

Not even a half hour later, I received a lovely reply apologizing for the repeat tickets, explaining that my permit had failed to auto-renew and that she had fixed the problem. Her email felt like such a ray of sunshine in my “cloudy” week that I wrote her back and told her so:

“I’m having one of ‘those’ weeks and your email put a smile on my face. Thank you so much. I hope you have as good a morning as I am having thanks to you.”

Believe it or not, she took the time to write back! In addition to both of us smiling as we started the day, I feel like I now have a new friend. Plus, I have a new, tangible example of yoga philosophy at work in regular, daily life.

Yoga philosophy applies to every moment of your life

Sauca, or purity, is one of yoga’s ten moral tenets. At first glance, it can be understood simply as an invitation to “keep yourself and your environs neat and tidy.” Clean up your messes. Brush your teeth. And so on.

This is essentially what I was practicing when I decided to deal with the root issue of my recurring parking tickets rather than just appealing the most recent ticket. By emailing for help, I was essentially trying to straighten up my parking environs.

When we practice sauca at this surface level – when we apply outward order to messy, chaotic, or, in my case, needlessly complicated environs – what typically results is a sense of inward order or peace. Voila! This is precisely what I received by reaching out to the parking office for help. I no longer need to worry about parking tickets.

Yoga philosophy is more nuanced than it seems at first glance

But there’s more! As is the case with all of yoga philosophy, there are greater depths to explore. When practicing sauca, we are invited to maintain internal and external purity. In other words, we can keep our words, thoughts, and even our perspectives and attitudes as neat and orderly as we keep our bodies and environs.

This is the level at which sauca is supercharged. In my little email exchange with the parking office, I reached out for help, not to express my frustration. Let’s get real here – had I led with annoyance, I would have annoyed my potential new friend and my morning would not have started with a shared smile.

Our attitude is ours to choose – and choosing wisely affects more than just you

My attitude – a friendly tone and willingness to assume responsibility for messing something up – allowed her the space to respond with cheerful helpfulness. To add to that, my sincere expression of gratitude and the little peek that I offered her into my life, made our exchange something I think we both will remember.

I will confess that I was not thinking at all about yoga philosophy that morning. But I do think my years of practicing yoga philosophy off my mat and in my life helped me intuitively make the choices I made. The key is that, rather than reacting from my rough week, I made other choices. I chose a positive, optimistic approach to the situation rather than defaulting to a grouchy, frazzled, frustrated tone.

In short, I learned (again) last Thursday that practicing internal sauca does, in fact, have the power to change my whole day. I witnessed it (again) change someone else’s morning. I invite you to give it a try, too. It’s an awesome feeling to know that you and I really do have the power to be the change we wish to see in the world!

If you’re curious about yoga philosophy, check out my self-paced online course and stay tuned for an upcoming series of classes linking philosophy and the physical practice of yoga.