La Cultura del Beso – The Culture of the Kiss

One of the first things that grabbed me about Latin American culture is the kiss. It’s used as a greeting for everything and everybody. From new friends to business acquaintances, everybody is greeted by a pressing together of cheeks and a besito – or small kiss.

It’s such a simple greeeting, and a sweet reminder to be gentle with each other. When everybody is greeted with a kiss, it’s easier to forget our differences and remember our one shared blissful humanity.

I’ve experienced times when I’ve been having difficulty with people and I’ve chosen in these times to continue to greet them with a kiss.  Appearing impolite was not the only reason for my decision.  In choosing to set differences aside and greet everybody with a kiss, I am reminding myself that we are more than our disagreements.

So often, when we experience a difference in opinion with somebody, our big egos rear up and take a these difference personally.  I’m talking really to heart – giving ourselves messages regarding the other person’s intelligence, values, and manners.  This mindset is very much tit for tat.  Often when I am in this mindset, it is difficult rise above and recognize big ego at work.  I am so focused on the injustice I’ve perceived that it’s difficult to be consciously aware that ego has taken over.

For me, this experience is often fueled by a righteous anger that arises out of my Pitta, or fire nature.   I try in my life to follow the rules of the  culture that I’m in and not to offend people.  Given that I”m such a rule-follower, I often find myself set off by people who do not follow the rules and treat others with less kindness and consideration than I feel is right.  I’m aware as I write this that this is all very subjective.  It’s not the yogi way to judge others, and it is the yogi way to turn the other cheek.  To treat others as we wish to be treated, not as they have treated us.

But all this is so much easier said than done.  In the moment, my emotions will carry me away as my teeth grit and my stomach tightens.  This Pitta is slow to anger – perhaps that’s the strong streak of compassionate Kapha , or earth energy, that I have in my ayurvedic consititution.  However, when angered, I can easily hold a grudge for a long time.

But really, that’s not my highest and best self, is it?  Honestly, I don’t want to be the type of person who reacts in a moment or over a lifetime to the behavior of others.  Acting from my highest self, I want to radiate peace and inspire peace in others.  Perhaps in staying with that intention, I am daring the unverse to test it by giving me situations in which to practice my patience.

It is a good practice and one worth coming back to.  I notice as I return to this practice over time, just as I come to my yoga again and again, I see improvements.  Looking back, I see that my reaction time is slower and less severe than it was when I was younger.  I am able to rise to a higher level of consciousness more easily and less likely to remain in a lower state of mind for long.  I am grateful for these changes, and understanding with myself for not being the highest and best version of myself that I’d like to be.

As Ram Das said in Be Here Now,

Ram Das, Be Here Now
Ram Das, Be Here Now

This page of Be Here Now has resonated with me strongly for the past year.  I think it’s an important reminder to honor ourselves for the moment we’re in.  We never get angry with babies because they don’t walk or don’t talk fast enough.  We owe ourselves the same compassion in our own process of awakening.

As I honor this process in myself and in those around me, I will continue to greet the world, and myself, with a besito.  Muah!