We've all heard it said, if you don't first love yourself then how can you possibly love another? Well, the same goes for compassion. In order to give compassion to the world, first we need to get in the habit of practicing self-compassion.
I remind my yoga students of this need for self-compassion every time they step on the mat. I ask them to thank themselves for coming to class, to allow themselves to be selfish for just this one hour of the day, and to be kind to themselves in their thoughts and actions as they move through their practice. Let go of judgments, fears, doubts, and all those self-limiting thoughts. Let go of the need to compete with yourself or others. Let yourself fall out of a pose, how else will you ever know how far you can go unless you risk falling? Go to child's pose - stay there as long as you need. Tell yourself that you are enough. Right now - exactly as you are in this moment. Give yourself a big hug and say "I love you" to you!
Class after class I share these messages, and class after class I have students approach me after to thank me for these reminders. We get so wrapped up in our daily grind and in caring for others, that we feel guilty when we take time to turn that compassion to ourselves. But just like a bank account, if all you ever do is spend that money, next thing you know you are flat broke! We need to make daily deposits into our emotional bank accounts so that we don't run dry.
Here's your self-compassion assignment - before you start making plans for 2014, take a little time in the next two days to reflect on 2013. Get out a journal or notepad, sit down in a comfy spot and perhaps spend a few minutes in quiet meditation. This will allow you to clear the mind so you can focus on this past year. Start making a list of all the things - big and small - that you accomplished this year. It could be a big event like getting a new job, buying a new house, ending or starting a relationship, or it could be the small things like holding crow pose for two breaths or remembering to floss your teeth more often. List it all! Once you get started, the ideas will start flowing. If you have difficulty, try thinking in categories. What did I accomplish at home? At work? In my relationships? What did I do for myself? What did I do for others? Once you finish, whether your list has 5 or 50 items on it, stop and tell yourself "thank you" and think about how you are different today than you were one year ago. Smile and feel the warmth and satisfaction of your accomplishments. Know that your actions in some way made a positive impact on the world around you.
To make this process easier next year, think about starting a Gratitude Jar for 2014!
I really love this idea! It doesn't have to be a daily thing, but at least once a week try to think of something to add to the jar. Accomplished goals, compassionate acts, surprise gifts, the beauty of nature, LOL moments, memories worth saving, daily blessings - write them down so they aren't forgotten. Then on December 31st, open the jar and read all the amazing things that happened in 2014!! I bet your gratitude list next year will be three times as long!!
In gratitude, love, peace, and compassion!!
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti!
Happy New Year to you <3
Mary Baker - ERYT-500 yoga teacher, adventure lover, fitness junkie, doughnut snob, whiskey & wine sipper