Response: "These 6 Simple Exercises Can Help You Cultivate More Compassion..." by Yoga Journal
As human beings, we are wired for connection, and this actually includes connection with ourselves!
Yes—you, above all, are worthy and deserving of love for your Self.
If this sounds strange or weird to you, you’re not alone. Self-love and self-compassion aren’t commonly taught or talked about. If anything, we get the message that it’s selfish, self-indulgent, or perhaps even narcissistic to love yourself.
There is a misconception here about what it means to love yourself.
Loving yourself is not about indulgence, or giving in to a whim. It’s not about shopping sprees, boxes of chocolate, or even days at the spa (not that a day at the space is a bad thing…).
Self-love is about recognizing that you have value, and that you matter. It’s acknowledging that your body, heart, mind, and spirit are worthy of connection. It’s giving yourself the inner resources that you need so that you can show up fully in the world—as you. Self-love is the greatest gift that you can give to the people that love you—because when you practice caring deeply for yourself, you can be fully present and alive in your life and in your relationships.
Self-love is a necessity.
It can also feel difficult. The folks at Yoga Journal offer this lovely summary of 6 simple practices to help you get started. They are practices that help you include you in the list of people that you care for, with clear strategies for how to get started.
Numbers 2 and 5 are of my personal favorites.
In Practice Number 2, the author speaks about a positive focus group. This is a tough one, but a very powerful one. Positive focus is a practice that I’ve done with my groups, and the result is consistently heart-expanding for all involved. It challenges the negativity bias of the brain, and when practiced consistently, offers a solid foundation for rewiring our neural pathways toward a more complete picture of ourselves. This practice also offers a very unique experience of deepened connection and shared humanity.
So often, we feel alone in the world. More often than not, this feeling happens when surrounded by people. The negativity bias, paired with the natural tendency toward self-focus and self-preservation of the human mind will give us messages that feel our feelings of separateness, isolation, and “otherness”. We start to assume that others see us through the same lens of otherness that we are experiencing. To hear others reflect back to you what they actually see and experience of you can dissolve those false perceptions. Witnessing others have similar experiences further dissolves the illusion of separateness.
These are some of the reasons that I love working with people in group settings, and why my Awaken program brings people together for the span of 12 months. While initially more uncomfortable for many, the outcome of being seen and experienced in this kind of dynamic group experience is consistently transformative in ways that one-on-one work simply can’t be.
In Practice Number 5, the author speaks about loving touch—from your Self! This idea can be really challenging for some. Self-touch, however, is actually an intuitive form of self-love and self-soothing. When we hear bad news, our hand may naturally find their way to our chest, briefly holding our heart.
In Ayurveda, there is a practice of self-massage that is one of the key habits that my members learn. As we learn to be with our body in a loving way, we get to know the body. We get to learn it’s language—how it communicates to us. Our central nervous system softens into ease under the warmth of our own kindness, leaving us with more clarity in our thoughts. A simple touch can go a long way toward feelings of connection and belonging.
Check out the full article from Yoga Journal and all 6 practices here. Try them out and let me know what you discover.
Go ahead—give yourself a little love today.
Because you matter. You matter a lot.