Self-compassion (as you can see from my last blog post) has remained a strong guide for me over the last year or so, and I am beginning to notice my mindset, thought patterns and feelings begin to shape-shift.
Such as when I recently found myself trying to push on with the laptop /parenting juggle during school holidays. Taking early mornings on the screen instead of on the mat. I was feeling knackered, but just kept on pushing. Conditioned expectation I pondered, perhaps? Of course this resulted in less patience, a tired Mum and crap productivity.
Hmmm. But don't you advocate REST Carolyn?! To slow down. To sometimes reduce the to-do list to the essentials to make time for you instead? Self care as a form of looking after the family?.... Yup!
But then I NOTICED. That's the practice in action - the space to notice our conditioned / habitual behaviours, and offer ourselves the kindness to make changes that support us.
I offered myself some kind words..... "it's ok to forget what you know supports you, you're only doing your best in this moment, you are worthy of self-care, make some time for you".... the laptop closed for a week.*
Cue shoulders dropping, jaw loosening, breath slowing. Space.
What kind words could you offer yourself next time you need them?...
What supportive moments of inner-care could you pepper into your
days and weeks?...
Keep reading for ideas and a free Yoga Nidra practice.
Ahimsa is a guiding yogic principal of 'non-harming' within the path of the 8 limbs of yoga, as outlined by Sage Patanjali in an early yoga text - The Yoga Sutras. Non-harming in our words, actions and thoughts, to ourselves or others, takes gentle practice due to our inbuilt negativity bias, but with practice we can rewire and soften all the behaviours due to our fantastic elastic brain (there's a great kids book of the same name btw)
HOW CAN I PRACTICE AHIMSA ON THE MAT?
We can explore this on the mat by allowing ourselves to 'be in' the practice. Considering how we can 'do less'. Less pushing into ideas what we 'think' yoga shapes 'should' look like, and more feeling into where we are in our practice in that moment. Hello human 'being'.
We can inquire how it is to 'be' with sensations too. Neither holding on or running away is a hard thing, but there is fierce compassion there, if we allow. (Unless you register pain, in which case soften your shape and find your supportive compassionate variation).
Being where we are with compassion, i.e. without judgement (of self or others) is a valuable one to practice too. We wouldn't tell a good friend they were less than us because they couldn't 'do the thing', so why do we tell ourselves?
Pop on your favourite tune and MOVE. It doesn't matter what it looks like, no rules, this isn't dancing. Feel it. - one to do with kids to if an energy shift is needed, for you or them.
We could pause, for a few breaths or many minutes, and allow ourselves to be with the sound, or rhythm, or feeling of each breath - just as it is. Nothing to fix or change.
Or sit, letting mind wonder, daydreaming, or watching thoughts. Noticing them come..... and drift away. Allowing, whilst exploring the possibility to not judge ourselves, or attach preferential labels of good / bad.
It all takes time, and patience, and some effort, but you're worth it.
AHIMSA ON THE PAGE / IN LIFE
This guiding principal of Ahimsa comes to life when it becomes integrated into life. The above practices all support us in cultivating this. When we behave in a way that nourishes growth (hello growth mindset and trying new things) and compassion - especially caring for our inner self, as much as we might care for others.
I invite you to pause for 15-20 minutes when you can make time for you. Grab a pen and paper, and ponder how you talk to yourself when you make a (perceived) mistake?
Set a timer for 3-5 minutes for each point below and answer on the page....
How do I talk to myself when something in my (personal, parental or professional) life doesn't go to plan?
When was the last time I didn't stick to a goal (personal, fitness, diet, professional, or otherwise), and how did I treat myself/ how did I feel?
If my best friend didn't stick to a goal, what words would I say to them?
Read your words.
WHAT DO YOU NOTICE?
Now take an inhale through nose, and a big old sighing exhale through the mouth. Perhaps 3 or 4, and when exhaling know that we all think this way sometimes, it is not our fault, we are doing our best with the inner resources we have at that time. We can allow this all to be here too, and perhaps send some of those caring kind words inwards next time any time that inner-critic creeps in.
YOGA NIDRA PRACTICE
Softening towards our compassionate self can take time, and practice. So I have recorded this accessible a Yoga Nidra with the compassionate theme of acceptance, inspired by the Lotus Flower, able to stay rooted and strong, whilst soft petals turn towards the sun, whilst living in murky, muddy, silt and water - allowing it all to be there.
Please find a quiet place any time you need, lay down, cover yourself with a warm blanket and click below to listen.
Go kindly on your self special one.