The “H” Word


The Cancer of Being Critical

Not too many years ago our culture invented a word: Hater. I don't think that word existed back in the lexicon of my parents. It was meant to mean someone who is often contrary not only to you and what you’re about but more often than not, chronically grumpy about the world. Even in the last few years, the word “hater”  has now grown into something much more insidious vis a vis hate crimes and trolling on the internet, etc. I'm not so much referring to that kind of hater, though someone with pathological tendencies toward hate could still benefit from what I want to talk about. 

What' I'm talking about is the person for which there is an unlimited supply of things to complain about, gripe about, or criticize. They see the world through hater-colored glasses. You know anybody like this? C'um on— do you ever find yourself resembling a hater? Reminds me of those two salty guys in The Muppet Show who sit up in peanut gallery and spit out insults and complaints like it were an art form, like it was their reason for being?

A hating attitude can be terminal. Cancerous to your soul. It can be an insidious habit that will canker your heart and color your entire world.  And if you don't consider yourself a hater, then chances are that you know one, right? We all know someone who we like, maybe even love, but who can be so chronically cantankerous that we find ourselves limiting our exposure to them.


Contentment: The Antidote to Cantankerous

The Yoga Sutras talk about haters. Maybe not directly but if you read between the lines you can see it in there. Specifically, the sutras talk about the opposite quality of a hater. The term is Santosha and refers to the spiritual practice of contentment and seeing the world as abundant and perfect in its imperfections. Santosha means to decide to be content with what you have and see the world through gratitude-colored glasses, to choose to be cool with what life has thrown you. Sure, we will always hope and strive for a bright future, but along the way we can decide that we are happy with this, now. It’s about presence. Santosha is a spiritual practice and belongs in yoga philosophy because it will fundamentally change the way you see the world in a way that helps you feel a part of the incredibly beautiful and complex family of all human beings instead of fighting against it.

We can practice Santosha on the yoga mat. For one, we can practice being content with where we are at in our practice, always riding that comfortably intense edge, rather than pushing beyond our limits. Then, as we honor our bodies, it will be our bodies that invite us to move further in a pose rather than being discontent with what we have. And secondly, I love the idea that this incredible life journey called yoga can be done on nothing more than a 2’X6’ rubber mat, and that’s all the space we need! We can be content with that. Yes, the world is our practice space, but our yoga mat represents all the space we need as we join with like-minded people in a yoga class to apply the condensed practice of learning principles like poses and Santosha in order to bring those qualities into our practice of daily living.

Two Contentment Practices

I’d like to offer a few practices that may change your life. I know it sounds like I’m over selling this, but I’m not. Hang with me.

Practice 1.

(Photo: Pixabay/B_me. Pixabay Licence)

Before chronically judging people, practice seeing something good about everyone you see. Let it be the first thing you notice. Your mind might say to itself, “I like that guys hat. That woman looks great in red. That kid looks like he's having a really fun day, that person drives an energy efficient car—thanks for doing your part to help keep our environment clean . . . ” Recently, I was walking around in public and did this practice as I watched throngs of people for an amazing result in my own heart. Instead of feeling like it was me against the world or at very least neutral with the throngs of all the other people that I couldn't care about one way or the other, instead I felt like I was a part of an incredible family. You can do this practice at stop lights, while walking down the street, and especially while in a crowd. Practice doing it with your own family members. Watch to see how your entire demeanor changes and also how others change toward you.

Practice 2.

I’ve begun using a life-changing mantra: “I don’t need to have an opinion about that.” You can ask my wife, sometimes I’ll start to go off about the smallest things, like the wording on a billboard or the fact that Minis aren’t mini anymore, but rather mediums. I sometimes get negative too. I hope I stop myself before becoming a hater and remind myself that, “I don’t need to have an opinion about that. Why can’t there be a Mediums? That billboard can be exactly the way it is (illegible) and I simply just don’t need to have an opinion about it. I bet my wife enjoys me more when I’m not so opinionated about everything. Heaven forbid that I become that chronically cantankerous person in her life, right? Try out this mantra. Maybe offer it to the grump in your life.

Practice Santosha this week both on and off the mat. And if you don’t make it to class, nor you or I need to have an opinion about that.


Scott Moore Yoga (Photo by Alex Adams)

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in the US (New York, Salt Lake City, LA) and abroad and currently lives in Southern France. When he's not teaching or conducting retreats, he writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, Medium, and his own blog at Scott also loves to run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son. Check out his yoga retreats to places like Tuscany and France , his online Yoga Nidra Course and his Yoga Teacher Mentor Program

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