Most people, myself included are very hard on themselves. In yoga class or during meditation we will often meet a rigid and strict version of ourselves telling us to bend deeper, hold longer or breathe faster. And in meditation our minds will race, and another version of ourselves will be angry about our minds racing.
We seldom act with kindness towards ourselves in hard situations - unless we practice kindness. Towards ourselves, and towards others. Often the kindness towards others somehow is easier for many to practice, while the gift of giving ourselves gentle kindness can be quite hard.
I work in a kindergarten. Whatever mood the kids are in, my instinct is to act with kindness. They are innocent small kids, and their brains are developing, they have one million things to learn. When they act violently towards others, or me, with fists or words, I do not act violently back, obviously. et we often act with violence towards ourselves, or we lack kindness in how we treat ourselves.
With small kids acting out, we know that what they need is kindness. That what they are doing comes from a place of not knowing or understanding.
We know they need
3. to be understood
4. us to tell them how their actions affects others and encourage a different behavior
5. sometimes we just have to take their shovel out of their hands and have them sit and calm down a little
Maybe we can all act towards ourselves as we would act towards a 3 year old?
Soft, kind and caring. Always. And sometimes with a 3 year old, you also have to be firm and consistent, of course. Just like we need to be with ourselves. But we can be firm and consistent with kindness, we do not have to force, yell or be strict even if it is a firm message.
Kindness is a very important part of the yogic principles, as it is the first Yama in the first of the 8 limbs of yoga. Ahimsa means non-violence, and kindness is the opposite of violence.
We can practice ahimsa by being kind, sharing and helping others in or day to day. Ahimsa is not only to not do harm, but to stand up against harm, to speak up against injustice.
When it comes to your own personal development, ahimsa is to be good to yourself and your body.
Ahimsa is o allow yourself enough rest, to manage your stress, to treat your body as the temple it is, to surround yourself with people and activities that serve your best self.
Some questions for you to reflect upon, feel very free to share in the comments <3
1. Where in my life do I cause harm with my words, thoughts or actions?
2. When do I cause harm towards myself and in what way?
3. What can I do to cause more non-harm/more kindness and justice?
4. Who do I know who I feel genuinly practices ahimsa? How can they inspire me?
And also, my answers, because I believe we can inspire each other my being honest and open about this.
I cause harm with how I spend my money. I am sometimes conscious, sometimes not. How I spend my money and who I support can cause or not cause violence. I need to work on this. I cause harm with my words, especially towards my loved ones when I am not listening to my needs. When I get stressed, tired or overwhelmed, I take it out on others. I can stop doing this by listening better to my energy levels and respect them. I have envious thoughts when I see someone doing someone I wish I could do, I feel jealous of other peoples wealth and economy, I judge others without knowing them. I am not into stopping my ¨negative¨ thoughts, but to observe them and see what they want from me. Can the jealousy be turned into fuel for my own business and life? Who and what am I really judging when I judge others? What is my problem with them?
By not allowing myself the time I need alone and to relax. By being angry at myself when my thoughts go crazy during meditation. By spending time and energy in places or with people I do not want to. Way too much screen time. By not getting a cat already.
I can take more conscious economical choices - and spend my money in places I want to support. I can take better care of my own energy so that the lack of it won't hurt others. I can observe and accept my jealousy and envy. I can speak up louder when I see injustice. I can teach what I know about stress and rest and yoga - and in that way help people toward their own kindness.
There are so many amazing souls working for a better world, and there are so many ways to act with kindness. Some of the people that inspire me the most to be kind to myself & others are: Jen Pastiloff, Cleo Wade, Sarah Blondin, My mom (she does not have a book or a blog, but I can tell you stuff she tells me!).
Lots of love from Synnøve