Do you ever wake up in the morning wondering if you will be more sagacious, insouciant or sensible (do you like my long words?)
With all the yoga and mindfulness I practise I've often wondered whether one day I will be more like the Dalai Lama.
Last New Year, whilst on an early morning guided bird walk in the Usambero Mountains, Tanzania, I met Elizabeth Chanoona a Yoga and Meditation teacher. She epitomised to me what it was like to be a yogi - slim, fit, glowing, kind, calm and compassionate, and to top it all she did a 10 minute headstand every morning. You know the poem 'people come into your life for a reason, a season a lifetime etc', well ours was a 24 hour meeting and she was a big inspiration for Ellie and me and I really wanted to be like her.
She recommended a few books to me including 'After the Laundry The Ecstasy' by Jack Kornfield, and I've been dipping into it. Yesterday I enjoyed the chapter on personality and temperament -
'Awakening to the emotions means to feel them – nothing less, nothing more. It does not mean changing our feelings – feelings change all the time on their own. Nor does it mean changing our temperament If we are intuitive or philosophical, sanguine or melancholic, that will likely remain the same. Our range may expand but our temperament and personality will likely continue. One Buddhist teacher said that he had expected awakening to bring a 'personal transformation' only to be surprised that it was actually an 'impersonal transformation'. The transformation is the opening of the heart and not a personality change.
The teacher went on -
In many ways the spiritual transformation of the past decades is different than I imagined. I'm still the same quirky person, with much the same style and ways of being. So that on the outside I'm not that amazingly transformed, enlightened person I first hoped to become. But there's a transformation inside. Years of working with my feelings my family patterns and temper have softened the way I hold them all. In the struggle to know and deeply accept my life, it has been transformed, and my love has grown larger.
Emotional awakening, then is not about becoming a different person. We may naturally be an introvert or extrovert, a joyful person or an impatient one. “sometimes a master can be a great teacher but not necessarily a great person. Perhaps he or she is short-tempered, not easy to get along with or makes many demands'
I was also relieved to note that the Dalai Lama sometimes has feelings of anger, he has written “In situations of great injustice I can get angry for a time, but then I think 'What is the use', and gradually the anger turns into compassion'.
There's a song my children used to sing at their school in the UK called 'It's Good To Be Me'.
I don't feel the same way I did 25 years ago, 6 months ago or even last week. I'm definitely not Elizabeth or the Dalai and of course ever will be. I like being me, I always feel there is room to grow, learn and explore. I love bouncing about with happy, positive, get up and go people and also feel that the complainers have something to teach. When I first meet people I genuinely get excited about the lesson I am going to learn and wonder where it is going to take me.
Enjoy the journey.
PS apparently improving our vocabulary is also an overlooked way to improve our lives! https://litemind.com/top-3-reasons-to-improve-your-vocabulary/