Anyone who has lived with a toddler through the “terrible two’s” has likely experienced a temper tantrum. Take one otherwise sweet and lovable two year old, add a little tiredness or hunger, and then throw in a small obstacle or frustration and, wham, you have an out of control crying, kicking, screaming ball of emotion. As adults, we learn that the best way to deal with a temper tantrum is to remain calm. Back away, watch from a distance, be sure no permanent harm is done and in a few minutes the irrational little gremlin transforms back into the little human being you know and love.
Fortunately, we tend to outgrow our tendency toward temper tantrums as we mature. Yet they still manifest from time to time given the right—or wrong-- circumstances. Take one or more stressed out, overworked adult, throw in a slight misunderstanding, an expectation not met, plans gone awry, a bit of bad news and you suddenly find yourself in the midst of an escalating spiral of anger, shouting, panic, despair. If we are honest with ourselves, we can probably recall participating in such an event at least once in our adult life. As we become more adept practitioners of yoga, however, we increase our ability to be the calm adult who can step back from the storm, ride it out, and perhaps even help calm the waters.
In last month’s study group we began working with the eighteen “ities” of Swami Sivananda. The first of the “ities” is serenity. What does it mean to be serene? Swami Sivananda tells us that a serene countenance is “like the surface of a still lake.” Serenity, then is the stillness itself. It is the sense of inner calm and joy we try to maintain whether the world around us is calm and joyful or angry and turbulent. As Swami Sivanands notes, the beauty of serenity is that it radiates. The more serene we become the more likely we can create serenity in those around us. By quieting the two-year–old within ourselves we increase our ability to help others calm the two-year-old in themselves. We make peace by being peace.
What practices help you develop and maintain serenity? What experiences have you had with the power of serenity to radiate? Come share and explore at today’s sadhana, July 19, 5 p.m. Ruscombe Community Health Center.