Between the recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, climate change and Twitter shouting, the world feels like it's run amuck. It's heartbreaking, frightening and exhausting.
It's more important now than ever before for human beings to work towards a common goal to revive humanity for the good of us all.
Changing the world for the greater good is a lofty goal, but it begins with each of us as individuals - and we've already started! In every one of our Mindfulness in Motion classes for youth, we invite the students at the end of each class to recite this affirmation:
I have a strong mind
I have a brave heart
I have a wise body
I have a noble spirit
We've been doing this for about 4 years now, but it wasn't until the other day after meditating that it really hit me. These words are at the very foundation of what it means to be human.
Reviving humanity starts with working towards achieving a strong mind, brave heart, wise body and noble spirit in everything we do - in our relationships, our professions and within ourselves. It's not one thing we achieve at the end of our lives. It's every day choices and actions we make. Each of one of them supports and impacts each other.
Let's break it down...
I Have a Strong Mind
A strong mind could mean several things - focus, clarity, conviction and character to name a few. A strong mind is able to sift through the imperfections and challenges of life and come out on the other side braver, wiser and noble.
One way to have a strong mind is dedication to a consistent mindfulness practice such as #meditation or #Yoga. Our brain works really hard to make sense of our world. What's good for us, what's a threat?
When we practice mindfulness, we are developing the ability to decipher our thoughts and feelings that don't serve us, and then let them go. When we let them go, we can be present, which clears away the chaos in our mind. It enables us to pause and make choices that serve us, and those around us, better. But "practice" is the key word here. It takes time to train our brain and make it strong.
It's important to note that mindfulness is simply being present without judgment and with curiosity. So, don't judge your thoughts or feelings as they come to you, but instead embrace them as an intergral part of who you are. Then you can let them go.
The curiosity piece is where you acknowledge your thoughts or feelings in the moment, but you are curious about what they are, what they mean to you and why you have them. When you do that, you are discovering more about yourself, so you can make choices that serve you well. Understanding and accepting yourself for all that you are is the essence of a strong mind, a brave heart, a wise body and a noble spirit.
I Have a Brave Heart
Did you ever think of putting "brave" and "heart" in the same sentence? Usually "heart" is synonymous with things like love, compassion, kindness and empathy.
To give and receive love, to have compassion, to be kind and empathetic all require bravery, because they can hurt the most. Caring for others can hurt if we lose them. Caring for ourselves is sometimes hard because we're so busy, but we can't love others if we don't first love ourselves. There needs to be a balance, and that requires a strong mind, a wise body and a noble spirit to know how to manage it.
A brave heart also takes courage to step outside our comfort zone, to stand up for what's right, even if we're in the minority, or to stand up to a bully. But it takes a strong mind to make these often uncomfortable choices, it takes a wise body to instinctively know how to go about it and it takes a noble spirit to know what's right.
I Have a Wise Body
Often times, we feel before we think. So, for example, have you ever had a "gut" feeling about something? You might even feel some discomfort in your belly, or your throat gets tight. That is your wise body sending you signals that something might be wrong, or right for you.
When that happens, notice what thoughts arise for you? Are they positive or negative? Now use your strong mind to analyze what is happening, use your brave heart to determine if a choice you are about to make or situation is right for you or somebody else. Finally, is it serving your noble spirit for the greater good?
I Have a Noble Spirit
Your noble spirit is the hardest to quantify. To give this some clarity, ask yourself questions such as, "Do you feel your actions are good for your soul?" "What is the ripple effect of your choices?" "Are you proud of your behavior or decision?" "How do you want people to remember you?" "Who do you want to become?"
It takes a strong mind to ask these questions and discover the truth, it takes a brave heart to want to explore these answers within yourself and it takes a wise body to act on what is the most noble path for you.
If we all work to achieve a strong mind, brave heart, wise body and noble spirit, the ripple effect will transcend into our schools, homes, community and beyond. This level of humanity can re-connect us to a world where individualism and populist thinking seems to overshadow the greater good.
Change begins with small steps. Begin today by asking yourself, "How am I strong, brave, wise and noble." #strongbravewisenoble
Want to discover your strong mind, brave heart, wise body and noble spirit? Join us for our Mindfulness in Motion for Teens Teacher Training. Click here for details.
Phyllis Smith is the Co-Founder & CEO of Live Free Yoga, which offers Yoga and mindfulness programs for youth and the adults who serve them.
If you would like to learn more about Live Free Yoga and how we can serve you, email Phyllis@LiveFreeYoga.com.