Ti Harmony is not my birth name (sometimes people ask). “Ti” is a spiritual name that was given to me (it’s a longer story about how it came about). I accepted it to remind me that I was no longer the person whose name I had been using. When Nikki and I got married, we both changed our last names to “Harmony” to remind us of and inspire us toward what we are aiming our lives at. There is something potentially very powerful about a name. It means many different things to different people, but always it has some meaning or connection to something.
If you’ve been reading my blogs, you may remember that one of my practices is to chant the Sri Lalita Sahasranama daily. I also know possibly a few hundred human names associated with people that I see in the studio or elsewhere. For someone who never remembered people’s names when I was a kid, names have amazingly become very important in my life, even to the point of using Name as a focus of devotion and tool for connection with Spirit. (I never remembered names when I was younger because I just didn’t care. Once I started to care and made the effort that came with caring, remembering names isn’t that difficult.)
If you’ve ever named another being, like a pet or a child (if not yourself!), then you know that it’s a big decision. Same thing with naming a business, in some ways like a child. The last business I named, Open Heart Yoga School, was very purposefully chosen, every word of it, and the “Open Heart” part was particularly important to me and was the part that I personally contributed to the whole name. The “Yoga School,” also important came from my business partner. Open Heart was what I wanted to bring to the space, the energy that I hoped it would hold, and what I hoped people would leave with. When I started the current business “on my own” and needed a new name, the important decision once again arose. When one of my teacher trainees at the time, a very dedicated and committed student, did her last practice teach, during the time I was being open to and “trying to figure out” the new name, her theme of the yin-yoga class was “loving kindness.” I knew immediately that that was the new name for the studio.
Loving Kindness is, of course, a concept that is in the popular culture, thanks to it being one of the Buddhist meditation practices in which one begins with cultivating loving kindness toward oneself, then one’s loved ones and friends, and eventually even enemies and all beings. (In general it is seen as starting with the easy and moving to the more challenging, though our culture has warped the normal human mind to make it hardest for many of the most caring and compassionate people to give loving kindness to themselves!) The dictionary on my computer defines kindness as “the quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.” Wikipedia translates the Pali word “Metta”/Sanskrit word “maitri” as “benevolence, friendliness, amity, friendship, kindness, close mental union (on same mental wavelength) and active interest in others.” From my perspective, these are all qualities of the heart, not the mind. This quality/this list of qualities is not only what I hope to embody and bring to my time sharing at the studio but is also what I think the world needs more of, and I hope people who come here can also learn to more embody and bring out in their/your lives. I figure that is part of why people come here, either consciously or unconsciously.
As I mentioned above, we choose and use names of different things for different reasons, but part of the power of a name CAN BE how it makes you FEEL, what it does to you inside. Some words will, of course, be neutral or may possibly convey information. Some will have you feel worse, but some will have you feel immediately better. If you simply THINK “loving kindness,” in some way you are a changed and more benevolent person. You might read that sentence again looking for any change when you read the “loving kindness” part. These inner effects will, of course, be most noticeable if you think it repeatedly or continuously while letting its inner meaning reveal itself to you (that’s loving kindness/metta meditation). Feeling benevolence toward all FEELS better than, for example, being angry toward all (or even toward some). Friendliness, generosity,and their counterparts then are a healing balm to the poison that we inevitably ingest when we get angry or indulge other hurtful mental/emotional states. Anyone with even a small amount of introspection and willingness to let go a little will immediately know this to be true.
Last time I wrote about my surprise at Loving Kindness being one of the Best of the Triangle yoga studios. When I went to vote, I didn’t know what the other studios were that were also on the list (Carrboro Yoga Co., Franklin Street Yoga, and Triangle Yoga), and it struck me that those others are all locations (though I like the play on words with “triangle”). It struck me that “Loving Kindness” was a strange addition to the list not only because of size of the studio and student population as I wrote about last time, but also that it is the only one that is not identifying itself with a particular location in space. As I reflected on this more, it occurred that from a particular perspective, loving kindness as a quality IS also, in a way, a LOCATION, a “place” that we can live in and from. (Please, LET’S DO THAT!) Though not a location in the physical world, its location is the Heart, a place beyond our thinking mind, beyond how we usually conceive of ourself, beyond our small attachments and self-imposed limitations. This “location” is what all human hearts are truly seeking and is the only thing that will bring ultimate (final) satisfaction, contentment and well-being.
To end, Loving Kindness Yoga School: teachers here will endeavor to personally experience and convey friendliness, generosity, kindness, an active interest in all others, close mental union, compassion and love toward all of our students, family, friends, teachers, strangers, those who oppose us, and all beings. I hope you can feel it when you come here (I do!), and I hope that you can take it with you to all who you meet and all those with whom you have a psychic connection (that’s all beings)!