The amazing and beautiful Elena Brower is a frequent contributor to online classes at YogaGlo. During a practice the other day, she said something I really needed to hear: Teach the world how to treat you by how you treat yourself. As a woman, a mother, a yogini, as a person, this advice was well-timed.
Confession: I’m not always very nice to myself. In fact, I would say that I am, more often than not, my worst critic and greatest adversary. Am I alone in this tendency? Hardly.
This behavior was ingrained well before I had a child, but having a child has provided so many more opportunities to try and fail at (insert anything here), thus opening the door for a great deal of self-criticism if I allow it. Oh, and how I allow it. I’ve felt plenty of frustration with myself in my life, but the amount since becoming a mother has increased exponentially. This isn’t helped by the societal expectations thrust upon women as mothers, which are indeed impossible to live up to. But, that is a topic for another blog. No matter society’s influence or expectations, I have to take responsibility for my own feelings.
We have a new practice in our home. When we begin to experience frustration we STOP. (Pretty sure I came across this via Deepak Chopra on Twitter during a late-night feeding … can’t be sure, though. Those late night feedings leave my memory a bit blurry)
Take three deep breaths
Observe what is happening
Proceed with compassion
We adopted this new practice for the little one, thinking it would be a good and simple way to teach him to deal with frustration. In the process we’ve discovered how incredibly beneficial it has been for us. Especially that last part: proceed with compassion. The first three – stopping, breathing, observing – I was already doing those, mostly with success. But the final one, well, that one is really the most important and the most difficult, particularly when it comes to feeling compassion for ourselves.
This I know: if I want to be treated compassionately and if I want my son to treat himself and others with compassion, I must model this behavior. First towards myself, then towards others.
I know this. I teach this. I struggle with this every day. And then I roll out my mat, plop down in front of my computer to do a class on YogaGlo, and Elena Bower says to teach others how to treat me by treating myself well. Sigh. Thank you, Universe, for letting me hear exactly what I need to hear when I need to hear it. Way to drive the point home: Just be nice!
There has been plenty of opportunity to practice this as of late. The little one is going through the 10-month sleep regression (thus the late night sleepy twitter reading) and my attempts to help him through it have been pure trial and error. You know, just like pretty much everything else with parenting. The difference with this, though, has been that instead of berating myself when something I”m trying isn’t working and thinking I am the worst mother in the world for making him suffer as I figure it out, I am proceeding with compassion. I remind myself: I’m new at this. This is my first child. I’ve never done this before. Basically, I’m saying all the things that any kind, compassionate friend would say.
Imagine that, I’m being a friend … to me. If this seems obvious and simple that’s because it is. Yet, for me, this feels nothing short of radical. And good. And right.
Blessings to you and yours, yogis and yoginis. I’ll be traveling to the Asia Yoga Conference in Hong Kong next month. Stay tuned for some (hopefully) inspired posts.