Following on from my last post about the word namaste, and connecting to the light, truth and beauty in others (even if you find them irritating!) – part 2 of ‘everyday namaste’ is thinking about how we can better connect with our own ‘inner divine’.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop” – Rumi
So, what about seeing the light in yourself? Recognising that the entire universe is within you? Sounds like a bit of a stretch? Remember: our health isn’t just what we eat and how much exercise we’re doing. It’s also what we’re saying, what we’re thinking, and how we relate to ourselves. So how can we start appreciating ourselves more?
- Be kind to yourself
Think about a situation where a close friend messed up in some way at work. Perhaps they missed a deadline, or a presentation went wrong. Imagine what you would say to them. “It wasn’t your fault”, “You were tired/stressed/overworked” “I’m sure it will all work out ok, it’s not a big deal”. If it was a close friend, or someone you valued, I imagine your responses might be something along those lines.
Now imagine *you* did the same thing. What kinds of things would you be saying to yourself? I’d bet that a significant proportion of people wouldn’t be saying the same things you say to your friend. Instead it might be – “I can’t believe I did that, I’m so stupid” “My manager is going to hate me” “I always mess up and do things like that” or some variations thereof. Maybe these critical thoughts continue well after the event is all sorted out, and pop into your head at night when you’re trying to drift off to sleep.
How often do we berate, belittle and admonish ourselves, instead of showing ourselves the same care and compassion we show our loved ones? Is beating ourselves up getting us anywhere? What would life be like if we allowed a little of that love and care into our daily lives, and chose to let ourselves off the hook when things don’t go quite to plan? We can often grow and learn from our mistakes, so look for the learning, then let it go. Don’t let today’s difficulties take over your tomorrow, too.
- Positive affirmations.
“Sometimes you need someone to believe in you. ….and it’s always you”
Some days we might need a little reminder of our best qualities. Just imagine for a moment what might be different if we didn’t spend so much time obsessing about those things we hate about ourselves. You’d probably get a load of time back, and experience less stress and guilt – for things like having an extra portion of dessert. So, let’s flip it and think about all the qualities you have that are GREAT. Make yourself a list – stick it on your bathroom mirror or somewhere you’ll see it regularly. I’ll help you out with a few here, but make sure they’re meaningful to you.
Kind | Generous | Funny | Empathetic | Creative | Determined | Intuitive | Passionate Sharp | Good listener | Charismatic | Organised | Energetic | Open
If you’re struggling, ask a few close friends or family members what they think are your best qualities – and trust them when they tell you! Some people find it helpful to read them aloud every morning – you might feel ridiculous, but they’ll give you a boost for the day, and over time they’ll start to sink in.
- Get on your mat
Practicing yoga is a great way to start to look after yourself physically and mentally, giving yourself that time just to be in the moment. One of the reasons I love yoga (asana) practice is because it only requires you give your best that day, without comparing to others. Does your best that day involve headstand? Great. Does your best that day mean you stay in child’s pose for the whole class? Also great. Maybe even *more* great, for being able to acknowledge you need that rest and rejuvenation – it can be really hard to get past our ego, or the ‘shoulds’ we place on ourselves, even in yoga. Tuning in to what your body and your mind needs in that moment is an absolutely invaluable life skill. So get on your mat, even if you aren’t feeling up to it – even if for just a few minutes. It’s those days you probably need yoga most.
- A calm start to the day
Try to give yourself even 10 minutes at the start of the day of meditation or asana practice (or even better, both!) so you feel better equipped to handle whatever that day throws at you. 10 minutes in savasana or other relaxation postures that you enjoy (i.e. child’s pose, pigeon, happy baby, shoulder stand) when you get home from work is another great way to de-stress, and mentally separate work from home. Building these slots into your daily life is a way of looking after yourself – you’re telling yourself that you matter, that you are important, and that you are worthy of self-care and time for yourself.
Have a question or comment? Any ideas about how you might start to ‘namaste’ today? Let me know!
The Yog Travelogue