(Self-Compassion: Part 2)
When it comes to our bodies, we are told so many conflicting things these days- we should accept and love our body the way it is, with all its kinks and stretch marks, but on the other hand, please also eat ‘clean’ (whatever that means!), exercise and be healthy. It is hard to know what to do and this often leaves us with a feeling of inadequacy and leads to giving up, as we struggle to strike the right balance - whereas everyone else on Instagram and co. seems to be doing it so well.
Chances are, that if you are reading this, you are either looking for answers on how to be more compassionate towards your own body, struggling to accept who you are but unable to change it, or you are looking for ways to find that balance. Maybe you are extremely good at it- if so, please share your tips in the comments!
I have recently had to learn to accept and be compassionate towards a changing body. The last trimester of my second pregnancy has forced me to lie flat for most of the day, giving up teaching yoga entirely and limiting my own practice. Not just that, it is preventing my body from performing what I love the most, including running around with my 16 month-old son, picking him up, or driving him to activities he loves to do. I have spent many hours crying over my lost abilities. After all, I am a yoga teacher and nutrition coach; so I am supposed to be fit and have a strong body. I needed to find a way to be compassionate and patient with my own body, which by the way, is also not getting any smaller in the process!
Here is what I have found:
1. Vipassana Meditation (these days often simply called ‘mindfulness’) means 'insight'. It can help an awful lot with self-compassion. It teaches us to simply observe the current state of things, without giving it negative or positive connotations. Right now, I would observe myself as ‘writing’, later on it might be ‘doing the dishes’. I consciously observe the task at hand to stay in the present moment, but I do not give it meaning. This helps to remove yourself from the judgment of the task at hand and can translate into feelings and emotions about ourselves and our bodies as well. If we simply observe the fact that we ‘fell out of headstand’ during yoga, rather than thinking ‘I am not good enough/my body isn’t strong enough to do a headstand’ we are moving towards being able to approach ourselves with compassion.
2. Self-compassion does not mean to live in denial about oneself. I find that many people who claim to be ‘body positive’ are masking their true feelings about their own bodies (Louise Emma Clarke wrote a great blog on this recently on www.babyandchild.ae, find it here). To become truly self-compassionate, we need to honestly assess and evaluate the current state our body is in, and find ways to not punish ourselves for when we are not achieving what we perhaps expected of ourselves or others expect of us. Be honest with yourself - are you just pretending to love your body the way it is, or do you need to change? And what does it take for you to change?
3. We are in a constant struggle to keep up with everyone else. Who does not know the feeling? We are even competing with the person we were yesterday, the body we had yesterday, what we were able to do yesterday. I have unfollowed all social media accounts that like Mary Kondo would say, ‘do not spark joy’. I do not want to compare myself to anyone else. I will stay here, in the present day and work with what I have right now.
4. The body is what we show to the world. One of the hardest things is to be compassionate towards it, as we cannot hide it, and we are constantly being judged by the outside world. As a yoga teacher, people almost expect me to fit a certain stereotype. It has become important to me to emphasize all the other areas in my life that I am great at and appreciate those. To turn my attention to things that are not always obvious. So that when I feel my physical short comings, I know that there are other areas in my life that are a source of compassion and self-love.
Have you struggled with being compassionate towards your own body? If you have managed to find techniques to help you, please let us know in the comments. If you would like to know more about mindfulness and meditation techniques, yoga, reiki or positive psychology life coaching, to help you strike a better balance, do get in touch with us on www.soulspace.ae or firstname.lastname@example.org