Blame! Oh thank you, great reliever of self-responsibility.
Blame! Thanks again, awesome avoider of clear self-seeing. Blame! Thank you, for wrapping me in a blanket of “it’s your fault,” therefore alleviating any need to look inward at my own choices. We all use it. We have had it used on us. In the face of discomfort, it seems the go-to response to extend one stiff finger (no, not that one, well, maybe sometimes) in the direction of someone else. So convenient to cower behind that erect finger and push the problem over there. Anywhere but here!

The habit to blame starts early; you’ll know this if you have kids. “It’s not my fault, she did it”: how many times a day is that repeated? Or how about this one: “She made me do it.” It sounds so, well, childish, right? However, when we start listening to our internal dialogue don’t be too surprised as to what greets you.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that we turn that finger back around and point it at ourselves. That would be the same problem, different finger. I want to put the finger down altogether and see where I made a million billion choices in each day, month, year, that have brought me to this moment. To open my eyes to how I’ve chosen to ignore clear internal warnings, signs, red flags and just pulled out the big blame finger and started wildly wagging. This seemed deeply relevant in the recent wake of another “yoga scandal.” So many gigantic pointing fingers.

But how to break the habit? I mean, it’s served so well for a lifetime (or two). The practice of yoga, specifically meditation, offers the most potent way I’ve explored thus far to stop casting reproach in every direction. Meditation allows me to see myself more clearly and look at the ways I’m a participant in the circumstances of my life. As it turns out, not much time needs to be spent retracing ways in which we have overridden a gut instinct about a teacher, a relationship, a job, a move, etc. It doesn’t mean we have to get lost in the quagmire of regret or self-recrimination. Instead, a good long look at blind patterns of blaming can bring them into the light to be seen clearly. This makes them less automatic. By just noticing that little finger do its ridiculous dance, we slowly get wise to this simple and downright liberating truth: with each breath, we have a choice about how we show up for this life. The moment we recognize this, we start owning the choices we make.

Blame robs us of our power. The moment we get the finger out we give away our life force, our juju. So, put the finger down. Return to the breath, the one that is happening right now, and stand steady in your own wisdom. Watch the desire to make them bad and you good at all costs. And if you feel a twitching in that hand of yours, do yourself a favor and find something more fun to do with your fingers.

Janet’s personal yoga journey began in 1996 when she traveled to India, the birthplace of her grandfather and great-grandfather. There she met an inspired yogi and became dedicated to a conscious evolution through yoga. She currently teaches at Yoga Tree in San Francisco, and at teacher trainings, workshops, and retreats around the world.

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