I love the month of February. It feels more settled and calm than January to me, with the rhythm of life returning to a gentle ebb and flow. This makes it the perfect time to take a look inward, towards your heart, to connect to your Heart Intelligence. February being our adopted month of Love, offers a wonderful opportunity to embody the practice of self love, self compassion and forgiveness.
As Human Beings, we are so often brilliant at feeling and giving compassion to everyone, other than ourselves. We can be really amazing at being loving, forgiving and compassionate towards our friends and loved ones, yet almost devoid of giving ourselves the same. Isn't that an interesting thing?!
Dr Kristin Neff found in her research, "...the biggest reason people aren't more self - compassionate is that they're afraid they'll become self - indulgent. They believe self - criticism is what keeps them in line."
She goes on to say, "...Our culture says [that] being hard on yourself is the way to be."
Hmmm, to go a little further on this, I believe that our society rewards us for being hard on ourselves, in that, societal expectation says we must constantly be striving to achieve something external, material and tangible. So many of us feel that we're not living worthy lives unless we're pushing ourselves to achieve something.
In yoga terms I liken this to striving to achieve an asana / pose, with the 'push' to get there and to feel the sensations this brings; physically - pleasure or pain; mentally - satisfaction or dissatisfaction; emotionally - judgement or pride, things we may all fall easily into doing.
The true meaning of Yoga - is Union. The mind, body, breath and spirit together and with 'ease'. So in Yoga we are not trying to push ourselves beyond or even to our limits, instead we are seeking the ease in the asana / postures, the place where we can maintain the breath focus and in fact allow the body to soften, or yield. We are being self aware, compassionate, loving and even forgiving in our practice.
To extend this 'concept' of Self Compassion even further, I offer you this, Love, Compassion and Forgiveness can not truly be given and fully received, if you are not offering yourself the same Love, Compassion and Forgiveness, as you do others. For, "The degree to which you love yourself will determine your ability to love the other person, who will be reflecting back to you many of your own personality traits and qualities." Sanaya Roman.
So too then, if we do not offer ourselves the same love, compassion and forgiveness, we so freely give to others, then we cannot be being truly loving, compassionate and forgiving to them, for they are simply a refection of ourselves! As the beautiful and cherished 'Namaste' declares, 'The Light within me sees and acknowledges the Light within you, and from that space We are the Same [One].' That's just so powerful isn't it!
Therefore when we are being self compassionate, we are actually sending that beautiful ripple of love energy / vibration to one another, to Mother Earth, and even beyond!
So how do we actually practice Self Compassion?
Personally, I'm starting with my yoga practice. I'm beginning with Stillness and connection to my Intelligent Heart, asking for any messages it has for me; offering myself forgiveness and love by listening to what my heart has to say.
I've chosen to slow my yoga practice down, endeavouring to make each breath deep and long, as I move centred and mindfully through my practice.
Tip #3 Make time in your day to sit in a peaceful place, perhaps leaning back on a steadfast tree trunk, or the grass, take a few slow deep, full inhales and exhales, then tune into your own Heart Intelligence, asking how it is feeling, or if it has any messages for you? Then sit quietly, listening and allowing a response to arise - perhaps through a feeling, thought, sensation, vision or even a whisper. Acknowledging with reverence whatever arises, for it maybe that your heart has been longing for you to simply ask.
Tip #2 Become aware or mindful of times during the day when you find yourself thinking or even saying, 'I should be/ shouldn't be ... (doing, feeling, being, thinking).' When your Self Talk is full of 'shoulds' and 'shouldn'ts', you're actually telling yourself that you're not good enough as you are. You are feeding the ego part of yourself that is conditioned to believe that you are not enough or lovable enough, unless you're behaving in certain way. And let me tell you, that you simply Showing Upjust as Youare is more than Enough. You are indeed Perfect in your Imperfection because you are you and No-one is More You-er than You - Thank you Dr Suess!
My #1 Tip for Practicing Self Compassion is Breathe!
Take the time to stop all of the doing, pause and simply notice your breath - even if it's just for 30 seconds. No need to control it, change it, or do anything other than witness the miracle that is your body drawing breath All by Itself! Sounds simple I know, and it is. However, it's so easily overlooked as you run around doing all you do each day. It is such a wonderfully simple 'tool' for creating that Direct Connection to Self.
So now you're coming to the end of this blog, How About It?