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After a yoga class the other day, a woman went up to our teacher and said,

“I was kind of surprised that you referred to us as hippos. It seemed mean and unlike you.”

Our teacher was horrified. “What? When??”

In floor bow, you said “arms up, legs up, everything up. Only hippos are still on the floor.”

Our teacher smiled and reassured her that she had said “only hip bones are still on the floor. Not hippos.”

And everyone laughed because it was a cute misunderstanding and we went on our way.

But something startling occurred to me. How ready are we to hear something terrible about ourselves? How quick are we to assume the worst and only hear the negative?

I am guilty of this. Give me 100 complements and I’ll only remember the one thing that was not so glowing. That’s the one that will wake me up in the night and leave me cringing and sweating at 2AM.

This is something that I am trying to change. It’s easy to go out of my way to see the best aspects of other people, but when it comes to myself, I tend to be deaf to any praise that might be aimed at me. I’m much more likely to assume someone just called me a hippo.

I love the Three Jewels and it’s part of my daily meditation and gratitude prayers. I especially love this part:

I take refuge in the dharma, the spiritual teachings. I commit myself to the truth as it is.

Because dharma can mean the words of the Buddha and it can also mean the absolutely clear nature of reality. We can make up all kinds of drama to go along with life, we can imagine that he gave me a nasty look or she called me the third largest land mammal on the planet. We can put a negative spin on experiences and get all worked up about them – or we can remove that lens and see the truth as it is.

Acknowledge, accept and then let it go.

It’s a choice.

And when I’m being mindful, I chose that joyful surrender to the truth. It’s way better than being called a hippo.


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