"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.
Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."
- Dalai Lama
When I first read this quote, it had a profound effect on me, and I had one of those ah-ha/well duh moments. No matter what your beliefs are, whether you follow a religious path or not, the underlying principle of this human existence is compassion and kindness towards yourself and others. It is the basis for all religions, and it's even the basis of our yoga practice. Sounds simple right? Do we really need fancy temples? Do we need to dissect literature from 2000 years ago? How about just starting with simple acts of kindness.
There's certainly something to be said for the community and support that goes along with organized religion, but we need to understand that true peace is carried with you always. Being kind to others has the profound effect of attracting like kindness in return. And being kind to your body and to your mind, is just as important as that kindness you show towards others.
My 99-year-old grandmother gets angry with herself because she’s forgetful in her old age. I try to remind her that her body has served her well, she has written books and done great things throughout her lifetime. She is well respected and loved, no matter what. And I even catch myself thinking, Grandma, you’re 99, it’s OK to be forgetful, no one would ever blame you.
But aren’t we all guilty of doing the same thing? Even if you are young and able? We make mistakes and our bodies fail us, perhaps a slow progression over the years due to aging, or perhaps just due to an off day. The important thing to remember is to be kind - be kind to others when they make mistakes or react uncharacteristically due to stress or exhaustion, and be kind to ourselves, especially on the most trying days.
Wherever you are doing and whatever you are engaging in, do your best to remember to practice kindness towards yourself and towards others. Don’t discourage yourself when you’re sentences just aren’t flowing right, or you’re having a creative block, or you cringe because you could have showed up better in a certain circumstance.
The incredible thing is about this life is the unending opportunity for second chances. Just make sure when you get that second chance, that you do something great with it.