Immediately after returning home from our 3+ month trip to Mexico my body started to fall apart. I caught a terrible cold, the worst I have had in years. I broke out in eczema on my face. The skin on my body started to crack and shrivel up. And the tension in my neck and shoulders was off the charts. Adding to all that was this feeling that I needed to catch up from being away and address the endless work and life lists that were waiting for me.
One night a friend called and asked me how I was doing. I told her that my body was struggling and I was going through a rough patch. She said that maybe my body was trying to get me to slow down and take the re-entry more gradually. My quick response was that my body needed to get with the program and smarten up! She replied that maybe I needed to take a gentler approach. And in that moment I realized what I was doing. I was deliberately avoiding mindfulness judging myself pretty harshly. The very teachings that I share with my students over and over – about listening through compassionate observation, had completely eluded me. It was a profoundly humbling moment.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we not afford ourselves the same compassion and care that we would so easily extend to another? How can we change this behaviour? Here are 5 tips I am trying to work with that might help you:
- Be aware. The first step to changing is to be aware it is happening. Catch yourself when you you engage in self criticism and being hard on yourself. And then take a moment to change the script and say something nice, even loving! Make a commitment to only talk to yourself as you would to a friend.
- Create a mantra. The ancients developed mantras (a word or sound repeated to help aid in meditation) because they work! I like to think of a mantra like a seed for activating an intention. When we nurture our mantras, they begin to grow and flourish – helping to manifest our desires. The mantra I am currently using (inspired by the wonderful Erich Schiffmann) is Relax. Breathe. Love. Trust. Repeat your mantra whenever you notice your mind heading towards the negative.
- Accept what you cannot change. I know we like to think we can control everything, but we can’t. Accepting I was sick and needed to slow down suddenly made everything easier.
- Celebrate being human. Being human means we experience it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. Celebrate all of it. Although we may wish for unicorns and rainbows every day, we would be depriving ourselves of the opportunity to grow, learn and flourish. Rejoice that you have been given the gift of this lifetime and make the most of it each and every day.