The importance of being kind to yourself

In every single one of my yoga classes, I will say multiple times “listen to your body”, “make sure you are comfortable”, “don’t go further than what feels right”, and other sentences to that effect.

The key message can be summed up as “Be kind to yourself.” 

After all, one of the first principles of yoga is Ahimsa, which translates to non-harming. This applies both externally (not hurting others, being kind to them…) and internally (being kind to yourself, eating and sleeping enough etc.)

I respect this principle myself when I practice my yoga and meditation. I make a point of being kind to myself, not pushing too far, not expecting massive insights from each and every meditation.

Easy on the mat, harder in day-to-day life?

And yet, I find it a lot harder to apply in day-to-day life.

On Sunday, I was out in town with my husband for about 3 hours. The longest time we had been out in a while.

And out of a sudden, without any warning signals, I started to feel anxious and to find it hard to breathe.

Thinking back, I still don’t really know what came over me. 

I was talking about it with my husband on our way home and he said that I had to take it easy. 

Now, my husband isn’t the most zen and relaxed person on the planet, but he does have a fair bit of common sense.

I have always been a bit of an introvert and I loved the lockdown. 

Looking at a standard week, the most I am around people is when I walk my daughter to school, which takes me all of 10 minutes twice a day.  I know I’m really lucky that way!

Really, it’s no wonder I started to feel a bit tense and jittery after 3 hours in relatively busy and loud places surrounded by strangers.

But if it hadn’t been for my husband’s comment, I was going straight down the “what is wrong with me” approach. 

We are a far cry from ahimsa and not hurting!

So why am I writing all of this?

Well, I’d like it to have the same effect on some of you reading this as my husband’s comment had a me.

If you are judging yourself for something that you could have dealt with differently, STOP!

Rather try this:

  1. Can you figure out what is the source of whatever it is that didn’t go quite right (it could be environmental, or it could be more of a conditioning such as looking for comfort in eating chocolate). 
  2. Tell yourself that it’s ok. It might not be your shiniest hour, but it’s ok. 
  3. What can you learn from it? (in my case, I concluded that I need to get out and about more often for shorter periods of time and do a specific short visualisation beforehand).
  4. Do something that nurtures you. You have just done an introspection process that will slowly but surely rewire the way you behave so that you get closer and closer to that person you know you can be when you feel good. 

The key to change is to first accept where you are.

So, let’s say that you find it hard to relax and switch off:

  1. Why is that? Is it guilt? Are you actually procrastinating? Or do you “feel” that you should be doing something rather than sit down?
  2. It’s ok. That’s where you are right now. Beating yourself up about it isn’t going to help.
  3. What can you learn from the experience? Maybe you need to be more organised and to have a clear plan about what you are doing when so that you know that you have the time to take a break. Or maybe, if you always “feel” that you have something to do, you could start by taking 10 minutes each day for you and build up to a longer break.
  4. What would feel good right now? Going for a walk, doing that thing that you have been pushing back, having a cup of tea, putting the timer on for 10 minutes and sitting down with your book..

For tips on how to relax and be kind to yourself so that you can feel happier, join my Facebook group.

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