A little more than 12 years ago I was on the elliptical machine at the gym and felt a sharp pain in my chest. A week or two before that, I’d had a check up and my doctor told me my cholesterol readings were “off the charts.”
I got scared. I didn’t want to die. I had two young children and a loving husband who I wanted to spend more time with. But I knew I had to change my type-A-executive life and when the opportunity came several months later I walked out of my corporate corner office with a spectacular view of the East River and never went back.
Anger, frustration and stress had been a big part of my 25-year career in magazine publishing. To successfully meet deadlines and financial targets I yelled, fumed, wrote scathing emails, pounded on desks and generally acted like a child. If a competitor double crossed me, I did everything I could to make their life and business miserable.
When I left that life, I started practicing yoga every day and for the last 6 years I have meditated every morning. Then one day, as part of developing my website YogaCity NYC, I had a problem with a vendor. Our relationship ended badly and lawyers were lined up for battle. I discussed this problem with my yoga teacher, Alison West and she suggested I send the person I was about to sue “lovingkindness” instead of anger.
And I did.
For the next week I sat on my meditation cushion and wished this person, who I perceived as harming me; happiness, health, safety and ease. It was a deep and profound experience. My anger dissolved and what was left was a desire to solve my problem with my former adversary in a peaceful and respectful manner.
Eventually we settled our disagreement and I felt no residual violent emotions as a result.
Now when I am in conflict with someone instead of fighting I choose “lovingkindness” as my mode of resolution.
And, now instead of dangerous heart palpitations, I feel warmth and glowing radiating out of the center of my chest coupled with a desire for harmony and peace instead of rage.
What a change!
-Brette Popper, Publisher and Founder of YogaCity NYC