Cultivating Self Kindness
One of the most precious gifts I’ve received is the knowledge that self -kindness is necessary for living a healthy, happy, grounded life. It is not abut being selfish. Self-kindness is differentiated from self-esteem and self-centeredness in that self-esteem is often artificially created by manipulating circumstances to make one feel successful and self centeredness is the misunderstanding that one is the center of the universe. So not true!
I learned self-kindness in my yoga practice and through my Al-Anon program. Self-kindness is being accepting of ourselves as we are and being tolerant of our shortcomings or failures. Self-kindness is overcoming the need for perfectionism, of refusing to base our value in comparing ourselves with others, in accepting that we are exactly where we should be at any given time. Self-kindness is treating ourselves with compassion and doing what we need to feel copasetic with the world.
In practicing self-kindness I give myself permission to quit work at 5:15pm on weekdays to go to yoga. I often attend yoga classes that are more advanced than my physical limitations warrant because I’m all about the convenience of the class times. But rather than feeling inadequate because my wrists and ankles compromise my ability to do a particular asana, I am comfortable in making modifications or creating an alternative practice that works for me on any given day. So that I don’t disrupt the class with my adjustments, I practice in the back of the studio with my fan that keeps my “woman of a certain age” influxes of internal heat from interfering. That is practicing self-kindness.
There are sometimes when my stamina is lower and participating for half a practice is sufficient. Today, after 30 minutes, I realized that I’d have enough. My energy was low. So, I rolled up my mat and went home.
Being kinds to oneself includes learning when to say “no”, when to sleep, when to eat, when to rest, when to hold on, when to let go, when to forgive, when to forget, when to go to yoga, when to go to a meeting I need, when to sit in my chair with a book and a cup of tea, when to do what feels right. It is listening to that inner voice.
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