If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. – Dalai Lama
When we think of compassion, we might think of it as being kind to other people. We don’t often think of being kind to ourselves, and if we do, we might think we’re being selfish. How often do you do something that you know that you need, that will nurture your body and mind? But then you think, ‘No, I haven’t got time for a bath/relax/walk’, or ‘No – person A/B/C really needs me to do x/y/z’, or – ‘No, I must do the ironing/weeding/wash the car’. How important are these things compared with looking after yourself? We assume that our bodies and minds will just keep on going and will cope. Sometimes we need to say ‘Yes – I will do something for me. I will be kind to myself’. Do something to gently replenish, nourish and heal, such as a walk, yoga, long bath – whatever feels right for you.
“Self-compassion does not make us spoiled or weak, but rather is a learned coping strategy that research shows can decrease anxiety and enhance resilience and recovery from the effects of stress.” – Melanie Greenberg writing in a Psychology Today blog.
In our yoga classes, we’ve been working with the Dru Seat of Compassion sequence that can help to open our hearts to have compassion for ourselves and others.
What do you do to be kind to yourself? And if the answer doesn’t readily come to mind, think about how you could change that.
“The little space within the heart
is as great as the vast universe.
The heavens and the earth are there,
and the sun and the moon and the stars.
Fire and lightening and winds are there,
and all that now is and all that is not.”
We can sense that space within the heart through practicing postures that bring an awareness to the heart area, such as Utkatasana (Chair of the Heart) and Parsvottanasana (charity pose). They help us to reflect on what it means to be open-hearted.
I experienced the warmth of many open hearts when I visited the Mandala Yoga Ashram on their open day last weekend. Situated high on a hillside in the depths of Wales, reached by a narrow track, climbing upwards through the mist. Finding a warm welcome, smiling faces, flowers, and an amazing group of people who’d come together on that remote hillside.