When I first started teaching, a student came in rolled out her mat and lay down on her back for savasana. This is not that unusual as a starting point but they stayed there for the whole 75 minutes. It really thew me. She didn’t budge through the lunges, crow pose or back bends, not a murmur during bridge or hip openers. I stepped over and around as I taught power yoga with what seemed like a very powerless person slap bang in the middle.
Looking back now I see it as an act of powerfulness and kindness. For whatever reason the student had come to class and this is what she needed to do to be kind to herself. Kindness can be defined as some act we have to perform but kindness is more subtle than that. Kindness is love, compassion, non harming and awareness. Kindness can be a thought, an action or an intention and you can be the recipient or the giver.
The axiom you need to start with yourself is true. Sometimes we are very good at hiding kindness from ourselves as we wrap it up in acts of selfless love. Maybe you are a parent and you put all your love into your child at the expense of your own well-being. Maybe you work for a charity and you spend your days in service but you forget to exercise, eat properly or take time out for yourself. Maybe you work in a company that demands excellence from you but doesn’t give you the time to refuel yourself. Maybe you are great at encouraging others to excel but you firmly believe that you are a failure.
To me the most tragic form of harming or non-kindness begins within our own minds, our thoughts. They can show up like this; how we de-value ourselves, how we insist on believing in our own made up inadequacies, how we refuse to nourish, rest or refuel our bodies because we believe we don’t deserve it or we deserve to be ‘hard’ on ourselves. This negative self talk and judgement on ourselves is harming in the first degree. You can not honestly show up for someone else until you show up for yourself.
Practice for today: It is possible to be kind to yourself each and every day and in every moment. Today if you need to rest, rest, if you need to exercise do that, if you need to blob out, fine, if you need to forgive yourself or let go of some dialogue, do that. Find a way to stop being so hard on yourself, find an act of kindness for you. What do you need today?