Change Through Kindness

Last week I read an article about loving your body. One of the quotes I appreciated from the article was, “Let us honor and respect our bodies for what they do rather than despising them for how they appear.” If you want to read the full article go here.

A wise person I know posed the question: how can we make change in our lives (whether it is eating healthier, meditating, starting an exercise program, learning a new software program, etc.) and still accept ourselves just as we are?

For me, and the work I do with others, I feel it is important to start with kindness and compassion. I do not believe we can bully ourselves into change. Sure, bullying can make us change for a bit, but inevitably we fall back into old habits because bullying ourselves is exhausting and not sustainable. We also then create the habit of bullying ourselves, which is not how most of us want to interact with ourselves or others.

People typically come to Satmato Yoga Therapy because they want change in their lives. So we start with acceptance and compassion, the building blocks for change.

For example: I wanted to ride my bike more this summer. I got my bike all tuned up and ready to go, and then it mostly just sat around. When I looked at my bike I felt some guilt and shame for telling myself I was going to ride and then not riding. Guilt and shame are terrible motivators! They just made me feel bad about myself.

Awareness of guilt and shame is important however, because when I am aware, I have choices. When guilt and shame reared their heads I knew that I was suffering. So I paused, breathed, accepted that there was a part of me that wanted to ride and another part of me that was struggling to get on my bike. In the acceptance of all of me I felt less guilt and shame, and I even got on my bike. When I rode my bike I received the positive reinforcement of how wonderful riding feels on my body and mind. I would still like to ride my bike more, but I am noticing that I make more progress towards that goal when I am kind and accepting of myself as I am.

How do you practice compassionate change? How do you attempt to bully yourself into change? What is one small step you can take towards kindness for yourself while you attempt change in your life? For me it is taking a 5 second pause to just acknowledge what I am experiencing. Try it out. What do you notice right now?