Ahimsa and Kindness

person holding clear and red floral ball

Photo by Javon Swaby on Pexels.com

Ahimsa or non violence is the foundation of all yoga philosophy. Most of us might think we are not violent people. We don’t go around bullying or hurting others or animals. We are loving and giving, and would never want to do any harm.

However, there are many ways that we unconsciously do “violence” on ourselves.

How often do you stay at your desk to get through your work without a break or refreshment? Are you pushing yourself to exhaustion?
Is your self talk kind and supportive, or do you judge yourself harshly and put yourself down?

To paraphrase Gandhi’s words “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. Being forgiving and compassionate to yourself is the essential step to practicing ahimsa in the world.

This is fundamental for all of us on the path of yoga.
We must start with ourselves and allow the past damage of inner violence to heal.

Everything starts with our awareness of it.
Here are ways to bring about more awareness and change.

Decide to commit for one day to notice your internal conversations. Take time to journal and capture your thoughts.
At the end of the day. What did you notice? Is it time to change your conversation?
How can you start every thought with kindness?

An other practice is Loving Kindness Meditation. If your usual meditation is guided or based on mindfulness or mantra, commit to a loving kindness practice instead.Choose words that resonate with you.

May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you free of trouble and the causes of trouble
May you live your life with ease

metta-prayer

Lets Be Genuine, Not Nice!

pleasing motherThis is a re-post to support those of you on the path to being more authentic and true to your self. Enjoy!

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I am enjoying reviewing some of the Non Violent Communication work that I have done in the past. Today, I wanted to share this helpful insight from “Being Genuine” by Thomas D’Ansembourg.

As children so many of us take on the role of pleasers with our parents and teachers and other people. This is a strategy that worked somewhat well: We got attention, received praise and felt good about ourselves when the other person appreciated what we did for them. It was one way to get our needs met and to feel good.

Each time mother said “You are a sweetheart for doing that” or a teacher said “You are one of my best students” when you did well in tests,  this behavior was reinforced.

And so the belief came about that, in order to get what we want in life, we have to please others. They will give us what we need… and we will feel more in control and secure.

We focused on the external rather than building our own inner resources to get our needs met. You can find out more about what I am referring to, by reading this earlier post about our needs

However, when we are pleasers, we are never really sure if we are “doing the right thing” for the other person. We begin to distrust others reactions and doubt our own qualities or skills.

The other person becomes a judge and critic about to pass judgment on if we are doing it right. And of course, if we aren’t doing it right, then we must be wrong.

Can you see how this undermines our self esteem, confidence and sense of being…

We lose touch with our authentic selves because we are relying on the approval, validation and love from others.

Lets be genuine, not nice!

faces masks

To be genuine we must put aside our mask of accommodation and pleasing. Instead of thinking of ways to be nice we  must come from our authentic heart and soul.

This entails and change in our attention. Before we can reveal our authentic selves to others, we must pay attention to what is going on inside of us. When we shift this attention away from other people we can  discover who we are outside of the roles that we play, such  as sister, spouse, colleague, friend etc.

To be authentic we must also become open to feeling.

This can be a tough step on this journey to authenticity. When we believe our survival is dependent on pleasing others, we put other people’s wants in front of 0ur own. We start to tune into other people, and dismiss our own feeling and desires. Our own feelings get lost, and many of us end up not feeling very much at all.

Yet, to be authentic we must also open up to what we are feeling and take responsibility for it.

When we rely on others to feel good, we not only lose touch with our genuine feelings, but we also tend to blame others for “making us feel bad”. By taking responsibility for all of our emotions, we find freedom to be our genuine selves.

Take a moment to ask yourself these questions.

  • Am I expressing the truth of who I am and what I want … or am I accommodating others?
  • Am I smothering the truth in a mask of niceness?

If the answer is, “but I have no other choice!” Or “I don’t want to upset the other person!” Then you are reinforcing this deep seated belief and fear within you.

We always have a choice to take into account our own needs and the needs of others. As adults we  must acknowledge that being authentic and real, doesn’t mean we will be abandoned and unloved as we might have believed at a tender young age.

girl on her journey

It takes real courage to face the truth that we are not being truthful to ourselves or the others. The ego mind does not want to be confronted with this!

Yet, it is one of the most empowering steps we can take on the journey towards truth.

Inspiration to Boost your Karma in the New Year

Karma domino effect

Free photo 921799 © Anthony Hall – Dreamstime.com

Every year I like to review this list to bring good Karma to the year ahead, and beyond. This year I have added more self compassion and kindness towards others. Let me know what resonates with you this year.
  1. Keep your word.
  2. Be curious. Listen to understand.
  3. Show respect to everyone you encounter.
  4. Be respectful of those you haven’t met.
  5. Be a good friend.
  6. Look for the best in everyone.
  7. Be kind to others.
  8. Be kind to yourself.
  9. Forgive others.
  10. Forgive yourself.
  11. When you make a mistake say, “I’m sorry.
  12. Pour out your love when someone asks for it.
  13. Put your children’s needs before your own.
  14. When someone is speaking to you, be fully present and listen.
  15. Express yourself joyfully.
  16. Don’t be cruel with your words.
  17. Be grateful for everything you have. It is more than enough.
  18. Share your wisdom with those who ask for it.
  19. Give away what you don’t need.
  20. Help keep the Earth beautiful and safe for generations to come.
  21. Look behind you, stop and hold the door open for others.
  22. Savor every moment. The good, bad and the ugly. That’s life!
  23. Don’t forget to bring the dogs in after you have let them out.
  24. Smile more. Laugh lots!
  25. Expect life to be good.
  26. Do the right thing, especially when no one is watching.
  27. Dance with abandon. Always.
  28. Share the love you have been given and pass it on to others.
  29. Learn from your mistakes, and grow from them.
  30. Lighten up!
  31. Share what you believe in.
  32. Relax. Breathe. And S-L-O-W down.
  33. Be true to the beautiful being that you are.

The Power of Empathy

Enjoy this re-post about the power of empathy, especially in difficult relationships.

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One of our fundamental needs as human beings is to be heard and to be accepted as we are. Take a moment to recall a time where you were going through a hard time and someone empathized with you. How did it feel? Pretty good I expect…

When someone empathizes with us we don’t feel judged; we no longer feel alone; we feel understood; we become calmer; we usually feel better and are more able to handle a difficult  situation.

empathy babies

Empathy is a powerful tool for connecting to another person in an open loving way.  It feels good to us, yet how often do we intentionally empathize with someone else … especially when someone is angry or frustrated?
Marshall Rosenberg writes in his book “Non Violent Communication; a Language of Life“ how it can be especially difficult to empathize with those who appear to possess more power, status or resources and those who are closest to us.
One of my favorite take aways is:

“Empathize, rather than put your “but” in the face of an angry person.”

When we want to help we tend to jump in with a “but” and a “fix” for the other person. Yet empathy is more powerful and empowering.

He writes: “I continue to be amazed by the healing power of empathy. Time and again I have witnessed people transcending psychological pain when they have contact with someone who hears them with empathy.”

Why not increase your ability to empathize with this exercise:

Over the next few days see if you can empathize more with those people who are closest to you, colleagues at work and even your boss.frustrated man at work

Really tune in to what they might be feeling and reflect back what you are sensing they are going through.

Here are some examples of reflecting feelings statements:

It sounds like you are really frustrated about this

I can see that this is tough for you

I can’t imagine all that you are going through. It must be so hard

I’m sensing that this is scary for you

I hear that you are concerned

It sounds like this is a real challenge for you

 but in your faceIt sounds so simple, yet can be hard to do in that moment. So instead of putting your “but” and point of view in the other person’s face, empathize with their situation and reflect what they might be feeling.

Give the gift of feeling heard and understood.

 

Bring it Home

hands on heart

Put your hands on your heart and say to yourself,

“May you be happy.

May you be healthy.

May you be safe.

May you be loved.”

…. Repeat four times.*

 

So often we give to others and tend to them, and also dismiss kindness towards ourselves.

Its time to build your capacity to bring kindness home.

In times of turmoil and chaos, this is the least that we can do to stay grounded and remind ourselves  that we are all vulnerable feeling human beings who all want to be happy, to be healthy, to feel safe and to be loved.

Its time to share some love with yourself.

Namaste

 

*Abblett, Mitch. The Self-Compassion Deck: 50 Mindfulness-Based Practices (Kindle Locations 1097-1111). PESI Publishing. Kindle Edition.

We are One

“Do you realise that when you give a shilling to a beggar you are giving it to yourself?
Do you realise that when you help a dog over a stile you yourself are being helped?
Do you realise when you kick a man when he is down, you are kicking yourself? Give him another kick, you deserve it!”

~ Wei Wu Wei

I do enjoy Wei Wu Wei’s spiritual down-to-earthiness and English wit. It always makes me stop and reflect.

Let’s all slow down and choose how we want to be in the world.

Namaste

Accepting Who You Are

opening heart

I love this exercise from Steve Flowers and Bob Stahl in “Living with Your Heart Wide Open”. This is a book I’d also recommend for those of you who would like to cultivate more mindfulness and compassion in your lives, while freeing yourselves from unworthiness, inadequacy and shame.

“Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. You may not be perfect, but you are all you’ve got to work with. The process of becoming who you will be begins first with the total acceptance of who you are.”

~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

Self Compassion Exercise:

If you met with a friend and she confided in you that she felt completely worthless and ashamed, how would you try to comfort her? What would you tell her to so the her troubled heart? In what other ways would you express your loving kindness and compassion?

Take a few minutes to reflect on this and journal about what you would say.

Now consider some ways you too have felt sad and unhappy, and offer words of compassion that are similar to what you would share with a friend.

Notice what happens in your body and mind as your offer this kindness to yourself. Pay attention to what comes up for you physically, mentally, emotionally. Turn towards your own aching heart and perhaps place your hand on your chest, and then acknowledge to yourself “I care for this suffering.” Feel deeply into this and inquire into the attitude you would have towards your friend or loved one….

Breathe into the tight places in your body, inviting a little more tension to release with each exhalation. Be tender and caring, even toward whatever comments arise from your internal critic…. From time to time, repeat to yourself “I care for this suffering.”

Let your heart widen like a ripe pomegranate widens – so filled with caring and compassion it actually bursts out of its shell.