How is your inner dialogue? Would you talk to your best friend or a stranger the way you speak to yourself? Often, we are more critical, judgmental, and hard on ourselves than we are with others. If this sounds familiar, it may be time to work on developing a deeper sense of self-compassion. Yoga can help.
Compassion means “to suffer together.” According to Greater Good magazine, among emotion researchers, it is defined as “the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another's suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering”. In other words, you aren’t simply empathizing with a person’s suffering, you want to help alleviate it. Self-compassion simply means turning that kindness inward and treating yourself with the same care you would treat others. Many of us find this practice more difficult to implement but it’s vital to be loving to yourself before you can truly be loving to others.
According to the Yoga Sutras, one of yoga’s primary tenets is Yoga Sutra 1.2 Chitta vritti nirodaha, which translates as learning to direct your attention where you want it to go without distraction. When you begin to master your thoughts, you can shift your perspective to embrace positive thoughts and minimize the negative ones. You are what you do, so when you choose to do something different, you will become different. Notice when you’re being harsh with yourself. Pause and reframe your initial negative self-talk.
Cultivate the first Yama of the eight-limbed yoga path, Ahimsa. Ahimsa means non-harming or non-violence. Choose to treat yourself with kindness and gentleness when you’re going through challenging times. Instead of self-blame or despair if you’re fired from your job or break up with a partner or friend, take the time to soothe yourself, like you would your best friend. Look in the mirror and talk to yourself the same way you would comfort a loved one.
This week, focus on self-compassion and see how much more resilient, strong, and supported you feel. In the words of Miley Cyrus’s latest song, Flowers: "I can love me better (than you can), baby. Love yourself!"
Yoga For a Great Full Heart - Claire Petretti Marti
Flow From Compassion to Creation - Dia Draper
Heart of Hanuman: Making the Leap Into Compassion - Alanna Kaivalya
Breaking the Heart Wide Open - Channing Grivas
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