On Monday, we celebrated our daughter, Tulsi‘s 11th birthday. She has taught me so much about bhakti yoga (unconditional love).
On her birthday I was remembering one of the first instances that I learned about this from her, several years back. We were on a small plane to play in Saskatchewan, Canada. Along with us on the plane, were mostly hunters, going on a hunting trip. I had a great deal of judgment about that activity, especially for sport.
The man next to me was dressed in cameflauge and reading a book about hunting. I felt agitated by that and therefore chose to ignore him, and show no friendliness.
Tulsi got off the plane first with her mom and they walked ahead of me. As I walked toward the immigration line, I saw the man standing next to Tulsi. They were giggling and smiling and as playful as two people could be.
In that moment, I realized that Tulsi was simply connecting with his heart, not anything that superficially defined him.
I walked away from that experience realizing that closing my heart is never the answer. I didn’t necessarily need to make this man my new best friend, but the lesson was more subtle. It was about non-judgment and not shutting down my capacity to connect over surface differences. Who knows what may have come from a conversation?
This awareness continues to serve me, and it especially did during the pandemic, amidst the passion of clashing perspectives.
I continue to feel that Bhakti is a radical practice and that truly loving unconditionally is most important in those moments when we want to the least. That is where the big expansion happens!