I met Vanessa at a Mindful Yoga Therapy teacher training earlier this year. She is a musician turned yogi who is married to Soldier who plays in one of the Army's Field Bands. Since attending the training, she has started offering a free yoga for Veterans once a month at the same studio I do. She also has played her harp during one of my yoga for Vets classes...the best class I've had ever. _()_Namaste - Chris
Confession: I am a tree-hugging harp playing yoga doing/teaching vegan eating hippie. Yep, that’s me in a very short descriptive sentence, in addition to being a veggie-juicing dog rescuing army wife. A year ago I embarked on my first juice cleanse with a friend of mine in yoga training. Exactly as it sounds you only drink juice (or so I thought at the time) for a day, 3 days, 7 days or how ever long you are “crazy” enough to sustain the diet in attempt to purge the body of various toxins. Think of it sort of like those self-cleaning cycles in dishwashers and ovens, but with the human body. The day started off okay feeling pretty good, only to quickly plummet after hours of classes and teaching a handful of harp students. Eventually it ended with me on the couch eating anything I could find . . . not the best end to a not even 12-hour juice cleanse. I realize now that something was missing: compassion. Understanding what my body’s needs were and what was best to put into my body was greatly needed.
So this year when my husband expressed some interest in possibly doing a juice cleanse I jumped at the idea fully armed to conquer this cleanse once and for all with the ever potent compassion tucked away in my back pocket. Yes the majority of our cleansing consisted of juice, but if my body told me “hey where’s the substance” I’d eat a banana, or later in the evening a smaller whole meal of kale, quinoa and a bit of organic tofu with spices. I wanted to approach the cleanse with love and respect honoring what my body said was okay to feed it versus feeling the need to deprive it of anything. This cleanse taught me more about compassion.
After much thought, and a few negative comments directed our way for doing a juice cleanse, I have determined the exact opposite of compassion is assumption. As a vegan too often I’ve witnessed and even caught myself from making preconceived notions about those who eat meat. Yet I’ve met many a meat eater who adores animals and has a huge heart making them no less compassionate than the next person. Thinking back to the first sentence of this, what were your assumptions? Did the phrase “juice cleanse” bring to mind someone starving themselves or refusing to eat? How did that change after describing the experience of the cleanse?
Immediately I think back to when my husband joined the army. Thought #1 was pride for his accomplishment obtaining a competitive job in his expertise with the army, quickly followed by thought #1.25 of every military stereotype flying through my head. Would he become a war loving gun having soldier? I quickly found out I had a lot of learning to do in the compassion department (not to mention a great deal of growing as well!). Letting go of the judgments created and embracing the compassion for the unknown lead to a better opportunity to understand a lifestyle different than my own at the time. When we allow space for compassion we create growth in love and understanding of others, different lifestyles, and life in general. Compassion leads to living outside those boxes we put others and ourselves in, leading to a community of people supporting one another. As the yogi in me would say, "breath out the negative and breath in the positive,” or in this case “exhale the judgment and inhale space for compassion."