This quote has been rolling around in my mind and heart this month. No one knows exactly who said it first, maybe Plato. I’m willing to bet that if it was Plato, he was probably quoting someone else – maybe his mother. It seems that, as long as there have been sensitive people and pain, this idea has been guiding us to be kinder to each other. (If you want to geek out on the mysterious origins of the quote, check out this blog post here.
The quote has been in my mind, because it has been a season of hard battles in my family’s life. We say in tantric yoga that everything can be used to help us awaken. If you’ve been through some major heartbreak you’ll know that in the midst of that pain, there is an opening to understand that everyone is carrying their own pains. Everyone is indeed fighting their own battles. Though I don’t wish that pain on anyone, including myself, in the depth of struggle is a perfect, potent place to grow our ability to love.
Ahimsa, often translated to non-harming, is one of the fundamental practices outlined in the yoga sutras. I appreciate the more modern translation of Ahimsa – practicing loving kindness. We can go beyond just being neutral and not harming! Let’s add some TLC to the planet! On the mat we work to line up physically, so we don’t harm ourselves. Coming to the mat, and doing so in a mindful and refined way, is also an act of profound kindness for ourselves. In the inner practices, we grow our hearts and our capacity to be kind.
Practicing ahimsa in family life is of utmost importance. We have to support our ability to be kind with the ones who love us most – our children. They are so tender, and our ability to treat them with kindness is fertilizer for their optimal growth. Being kind to them, of course is important. But also, being kind to ourselves in front of them is vital. The way you talk about yourself and to yourself directly impacts your child’s ability to be kind to themselves. So the work is watching our inner monologue, and shifting it to be a kinder kind of self-talk. Then, and this will seem strange at first, but especially if you have younger kids, actually saying that positive self-talk out loud when they are around. Saying things like, “Oh man, I wish I hadn’t dropped that. But we all make mistakes!” Or, “I carried this all the way up stairs, I am a strong mama!” I expect you’ll hear your kids talking to themselves in the same tone you are using to speak to yourself. Powerful work!
All this practice takes some very serious self care. So be kind to yourself, take the time you need to fuel up in order to be at your best and able to be kind to others!
My valentine’s month invitation to you is to do something kind for yourself, and something kind for someone else each week. Make time for your “kindness practice”. Seriously, put it on the to-do list. For yourself: go for a long walk, make your favorite food, take a long bath – whatever you love. For others, maybe donate to an awesome organization like book harvest, or Porch. Anonymously put treats on your co-worker’s desks when they aren’t looking. Offer to take care of a friend’s kiddos so she can go to a yoga class. So many options! Please have fun with this, and please comment here or send me an email to let me know what you did!!!