Once we experience and feel [the] interdependence of all living beings, we will cease to hurt, humiliate, exploit and kill one another.  We will want to free all sentient beings from suffering.  This is karuna, compassion, which in turn gives rise to the responsibility to create happiness and its causes for all.  – Suresh Jindal, “Interdependence of All Living Beings,” The Times of India, November 13, 2003

Summer officially kicks off on Memorial Day weekend, and there will be lots of cookouts, outdoor activities and time with friends and family.  Memorial Day is also a time to remember and celebrate all of those selfless men and women who have made the greatest sacrifice of all, with the belief that they were making life easier for the rest of us.   How can we even begin to live up to the huge gift they bestowed upon us?

Maybe you have seen a video clip of Angelina Jolie’s acceptance speech for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award which she received for her work with the United Nations Refugee Agency? She talked about her mom always encouraging her to be of use, and that nothing in life would be meaningful unless she lived a life of use to others.

Perhaps starting with things as simple as allowing the shopper in the grocery store who has only a few items to go in front of you, picking up trash when you are out for a walk, stopping your car to ensure a duck family can safely cross the road, or volunteering some of your time to benefit a local organization.  Always remembering that we are all connected… how we treat the person who upsets us is as important as how we treat the person who we think is really cool.

We begin this practice of compassion on our mats in the studio.  We practice having compassion with ourselves as we struggle to get into or hold that more challenging pose and to focus on our breath through the entire class.  Then we step off the mat and begin to really practice compassion.  Compassion for all sentient beings, from the largest to the tiniest, so we can continue to pay it forward and commemorate those who helped make our lives so much easier, happier and filled with blessings.

Have a blessed Memorial Day!

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