“Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect and to be kind and affectionate with ourselves.” – Brené Brown
It’s surprising how quickly coin jars fill up. (My Ironman and I drop spare change in a glass jar in our kitchen which we joke is my tattoo fund– but really we end up emptying it for car washing and street parking the Adventure Van.) Miraculously, the jar is nearly always full even though it collects coins one by one, like drops of water filling a reservoir.
Compassion, too, is something we can collect and store up in our hearts little by little, one drop at a time. According to the yoga tradition, it starts by learning to befriend ourselves, speak kindly to ourselves, forgive ourselves and eventually love ourselves. Every time we treat ourselves with loving-kindness, we create a well-spring of compassion from which we can draw from and extend to others.
Compassion is conscious awareness of suffering and a desire to relieve this suffering through an energetic response.
And we can all agree: it’s hard to be compassionate towards other humans when we are tired, burnt-out, stressed-out and overall feeling gutted and empty.
So we start with a few moments of self-care every day. Start by resting, breathing, eating well. Start collecting compassion one precious coin at a time. Begin filling a reservoir by choosing self-care (remember this post about the elements of self-care?) so that you can better love yourself and others.
Collect 6 minutes of compassion today; here are some suggestions:
Practice a traditional Loving-Kindness Meditation:
Practice a yoga breathing technique: Extended Exhale Breathing
I used to say that I was one of the top five funniest people I know. But then I started devouring books written by my favorite comedians and my name moved down a few notches. But I’m ok with that. I still think that I’m highly entertaining and I would love to be friends with me.
I didn’t always feel this way. Because, well, I’m not perfect. And back when I was a perfectionist, being not-perfect was unacceptable. (I consider myself a “recovering perfectionist,” because I just don’t have time for that nonsense anymore.)
I’m sure you can relate: when you take honest inventory of the sum of your being, your flaws add up more quickly than your charms. While it’s easy to feel this way, I would suggest that your friends and your loved ones disagree with the outcome of your equation.
Sure, it’s true: no one is perfect. And it’s also true that anger, jealousy, bitterness and insecurity are ubiquitous human emotional responses. In yoga philosophy, we believe we are all working toward equilibrium between the dark and the light sides of our personality (remember this post about those crazy neon shorts?) to embrace our whole and authentic presence.
We can still be friends with ourselves, especially if we are only nearly-perfect.
Building an authentic and accepting friendship means investing time in a relationship.
In his study of the hilarity of modern dating Modern Romance, comedian Aziz Ansari concluded that surface level, three-new-ladies-a-night-found-on-Tindr dates were not as fulfilling as investing time and effort into getting to know one person at a time. Ansari studied how romantic relationships were built in small towns where the pickin’s were slim (surprise, surprise, he chose a town in Kansas) and found that when choices were limited, people found fulfillment in the dating scene by spending quality time with one person and getting to know them well, instead of making a split-second ‘Hot or Not’ decision.
Well, pickin’s are slim: there is only ONE you.
And YOU need to invest in yourself, get to know yourself, and make friends with yourself—the imperfect parts AND the perfect parts—to truly feel whole, authentic, and present.
Chögyam Trungpa calls this: “Making friends with yourself through Meditation and Everyday Awareness.” He writes, “meditation is contacting our actual situation, the raw and the rugged state of our mind and being. No matter what is there, we should look at it with presence. [Meditation is] building a long-term friendship with yourself.”
In meditation, when you sit down quietly, you will undoubtedly encounter what you deem to be negative aspects about yourself. But, in meditation, you don’t have to hide them; through mindfulness of your presence, you are afforded the opportunity to be real, authentic, and unencumbered by judgment.
When you invest time in yourself as if you are befriending yourself,your inherent worth becomes obvious, delightful and alluring.
Here are some meditation techniques to get you started:
“Breathe, Receive Presence” Meditation
Happy Making Friends,
Guided Meditation Teachings
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