Surprise! I’m late with another Self-Care Saturday post! But it’s okay! Because it’s 2018, The Year of the Woman, and we can be late if WE DAMN WELL PLEASE.
I actually spent a bit of time pondering on the next subject I wanted to tackle with you in regards to self-care. And I decided on “ahimsa” because it is something that is always on my mind as I go through my day. But first — DON’T FREAK OUT. This is all going to sound a little “woo woo,” but I promise if you just keep an open mind and read it through, maybe you won’t be super freaked out and leave me forever.
PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME FOREVER.
I try to attend yoga classes three times a week, partially for fitness/flexibility reasons, but mostly for anxiety. And my very most favorite yoga instructor, a wonderful woman named Jan, reminds us to practice “ahimsa” — a word derived from Sanskrit that means “non-harming or compassion” — before every class.
This is a word that I carry out of the studio and into my day — a reminder to be gentle with myself — to push myself without being harmful, critical, or unkind. And I think that it’s really REALLY important.
Just like in yoga, life can tempt us to peek off of our mat and compare ourselves to those around us. Some days the heat loosens my muscles, I’m well-rested, and everything flows perfectly. Other days, I have achy muscles that don’t want to budge, I feel “off”, or maybe an anxiety is eating away at my contentment. Those days I give myself grace and find thankfulness for a place where I can put the world away for an hour and just be.
Every day, my experience in class might look or feel different. But instead of getting frustrated or forcing poses that don’t feel good, I search for how the practice can serve me on that particular day.
There’s always a purpose.
We tend to be so hard on ourselves. The drive to succeed makes us believe that it has to come at any cost — we run ourselves ragged trying to raise the perfect kids, be the perfect mom, the perfect friend, the perfect wife. We feel obligated to explain ourselves and find balance, even when we don’t expect it from those we rely on. But aren’t those things are coming at a huge price to ourselves?
I have to believe that a practice as ancient as yoga has some incredible wisdom at it’s roots. The calm, the long, satisfying stretches, the feeling of being completely isolated but also connected with everyone in the room… So why WOULDN’T I think that maybe there is something to this “ahisma” thing, too?
Every woman needs a practice or a ritual that reminds her to be loving and kind to herself. There is so much strength in being present and grateful for every moment and allowing yourself to stumble or fail without shame or disappointment. Every woman needs a word of reflection that reminds her to ponder whether or not she living her life in a way that is kind and loving to HERSELF.
Does it sound selfish? Maybe? But that’s coming from a place of guilt and not a place that has enough wisdom to know that you serve others best when you are whole and fulfilled and LOVED.
The next time you’re comparing your body, your clothes, your life to someone else’s…the next time you’re pushing yourself in a way that is emotionally and physically hurtful or upsetting, just scream “AHISMA!!!” and walk away. I mean, people will probably think you’re psycho, but they’ll also be scared and leave you alone, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Ahisma, y’all! Let’s do it.