If you took a blue spruce tree and planted it in the desert, it would obviously perish. How do we forget that we too are living systems, and each of us have unique environments, needs, and conditions within which we flourish or wither?Dawna Markova
Creating a habit of gentleness toward yourself is not only a healthy, consciousness-raising practice for You — it also cultivates an authentic sense of gentleness toward others. Here are some of my favorite ways to recharge, refresh, renew and realign myself with gentleness:
1. Pay attention to the tone of your self-talk. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to shift your state of mind. What "tone of voice" are you talking to yourself in? Is it aggressive, impatient and unkind? Become aware. Take a deep breath and change your mental tone. How would you talk to a close friend, suffering from stress and frustration? Let your self-talk be kind and gentle in this way.
2. Give yourself a break. Step away for a few minutes, or simply allow yourself to slow down. Give yourself rest and relief. I call this balancing nearness with distance. If I'm working for a long time staring at a computer monitor, I give myself a break to go to a window and gaze off into the distance. If I'm feeling drained from being around a lot of people, I give myself some solitude. Take time to balance your obligations with periods of rest.
3. Get up, forgive yourself and keep walking. Replaying an event in your mind over and over again, wishing you had done it differently, is robbing you of your joy. Let your heart and mind know rest. Ask yourself what you've learned from the experience, let go of the guilt and the regret, and move forward. Life is a journey, don't stop at the root you tripped over. What's done cannot be undone. Let it propel you into a higher state of consciousness, instead of keeping you a prisoner of the past.
4. Eat consciously. In times of difficulty, it can be tempting to eat comfort foods that aren't very healthy. Keep in mind that the comfort these foods bring is very short-lived, and likely followed by a crash or depression of some sort. Nourish yourself with healthy foods that naturally boost your energy and elevate your mind. Raw fruit and veggie smoothies are a perfect example. Leafy greens, citrus fruits and powdered maca root are some of my favorite energizing, mood-boosting foods.
5. Treat yourself. Do something nice for yourself. Give yourself a gift. Spend some quality time doing something you enjoy. This will renew your heart, your mind and your attitude.
6. Acknowledge your needs. Are you hungry? Eat. Are you tired? Rest. Are you burned out? Do something enjoyable and invigorating. Attune yourself to what your heart, your body and your mind are telling you that you need. Make yourself a priority.
7. Stop worrying and create solutions. Whenever I catch myself worrying about something, I take a mental step back and ask myself what solutions are available. Is there anything I can do to improve the situation? If so, I take note and put a plan into action. If not, I must let it go. Worrying is an energy vacuum that accomplishes absolutely nothing in and of itself, other than holding your mind captive. Do your best — that's good enough.
8. Yoga. For me, yoga is meditation, deep breathing, release, energy, emotion, connection, lightness, endurance and absolute satisfaction, all rolled into one. Lying on the floor after an hour of vinyasa yoga, exhausted and drenched in sweat, I become consumed with a radiating sense of love and completeness. I lie with it and I savor it. My body, heart and mind feel completely renewed. I highly recommend this practice.
9. Breathe. Becoming conscious of your breath is one of the single most transformative things you can do for yourself. Notice your breathing pattern during times of difficulty and stress. Take a deep, slow breath. Do this as often as it comes to mind. Regulating your breath is an excellent, effective way to take control of your mental and physical state. Slow, deep breathing is immensely relaxing, and activates your body's natural stress-fighting response. So breathe, my friend!
I hope that you find these tips useful. What are some of your favorite self-gentleness practices? I'd love for you to share them in the comments!