Living a Life Unclouded by Hate

BY Shelby Lewis        July 2, 2020

I surrender my thoughts about this.

“Princess Mononoke” is one of my favorite animated films. In it, the Zen-yet-conflicted hero is on a quest of great importance. He risked his life to save his village but was touched by a demon in the process, so the young prince is banished from his comfortable home and forced to explore what fate awaits him for the rest of his life. The neighboring kingdom’s queen, played by the brilliantly British Minnie Driver, asks this odd, visiting warrior what his goal is for his new journey. He says: “To see with eyes unclouded by hate.” And then she laughs in his face. Hard.

When the Cloud Forms

Recently, I had a rough test of will myself. Now, I wasn’t slaying spirit monsters or crossing rocky terrain in search of a civilization to save, but I was in a yoga class. And boy, was I cloudy.

This class was supposed to be beginner’s level. Some of the participants even raised their hands to signal that they’d never been to yoga—ever. However, that didn’t stop our zealously-advanced, blissfully-oblivious instructor from proposing harder and harder sequences throughout our long hour of trying not to fall over. Her lack of awareness allowed none of us the chance to attempt competency, let alone mastery. It put some students in an unaware place of danger in which they may have hurt themselves.

She was trying to impress. We were trying to stay alive. And I was trying to calm the flames inside of me on behalf of fitness beginners everywhere.

I have always had a temper. It forms as a low rumble in my gut, jets up into my throat, and claws from the inside until I let a lightning bolt escape in the form of hurtful words, vicious gossip, or subtle-yet-pointed eye rolls. All are destructive—and, ironically, most destructive to me.

What to Do When We’re Triggered

As we all practice the pillars of our spiritual life, one of the toughest distractions we face from productive, love-based thoughts is when we're triggered. When I'm triggered, it’s usually due to a perceived injustice that my ego has decided to “fix”—presumably hoping to claim a shallow, fleeting reward of self-righteousness. But the sickness that ensues, that pit in my stomach, only ends up hurting me. It ruins my experience. And if I cannot shake out of that “cloud of hate,” then it will start to affect those around me that I care about. So, what do we do when we get that lump of fiery, heavy fury that blinds us to the beauty of the world?

I’ll tell you what I did. I summoned one of those extra big yoga breaths and said to myself: “I surrender my thoughts about this.”

At that time, the destructive thoughts swirling about in my head were having a field day complaining about this woman who was ruining everything good about yoga for all time. But then—with one phrase, well-meant if not fully-believed—I surrendered them. My thoughts had been touched by a demon. For my health and for the health of my modern-day village, I consciously decided to put them on an imaginary altar above my triangle pose and allow them to be transformed.

And suddenly, they were.

Those demonic thoughts were banished from my mind. Only then was I able to experience what fate had in store for me. Only then was I able to be open to the next part of this epic journey. 

Or, at the very least, the rest of this yoga class.

I Surrender My Thoughts About This

As I let those words wash over me, in a flash the entire room looked different. I started to see a variety of things that made me laugh, or smile, or feel calm. That lady’s yoga mat was my favorite color. That girl’s leggings had a really cool strap design. That guy’s long hair is completely in his face. And when the poses floated our gaze upwards, I found the widest, most delightful array of smiley faces in the pattern of the ceiling.

As soon as I was open to smile, I was given every reason to.

By surrendering my thoughts about “this”—that is, the teacher, the class level, what yoga should be, or whatever else was bothering me—I felt an instant lightening. I didn’t have to fix anything. I didn’t have to save anyone. I didn’t have to ever come back to this class again. I suddenly had control of my own experience. That which I perceived as “ruining my class” was suddenly of no consequence to me. I had my power back. And it had only gone in the first place because I let it slip from my grasp, clouded by hate.

To be unclouded is what fate has in store for each of us at any given moment. To hold power without tension is heaven on earth. We need only surrender thoughts that don’t serve us and be open to receiving the instant, divine exchange of new thoughts. Thoughts that become things.

Fun things.

Like smiley faces in the ceiling.

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Shelby Lewis

Shelby Lewis is a theatre artist and disability advocate who loves to write, direct, act, teach, narrate audiobooks, coach, and much, much more. She hopes to empower everyone to find their own royalty in everyday life. Visit her website at As Mike Dooley says, "By not claiming anything, I got everything."

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