It’s the message I was supposed to hear today, so I’m sharing it with you.
A little backstory first. I love yoga. I was introduced to heated, power yoga about six years ago. My initial reaction upon entering the sweat-inducing hot and humid room was “these people are insane.” But recognizing how good I felt afterwards, I kept showing up. Overtime, I realized that the present moment awareness fostered through the flow and the engagement and release of the body’s musculature allowed my brain to gently settle. Respites from my internal mental chatter–even if brief–are always welcome.
As I continued with yoga, I learned how to connect more fully with my breath and to notice thoughts without attaching to them. Over time, time on the mat became not just a hiatus but a connection with something Bigger. I learned to be present and listen. In the stillness, I often found exactly what I needed when the quiet voice of Wisdom made itself known.
Then life happened. A car accident injured my neck and back and my previously three to four day-a-week yoga habit quickly dwindled, with doctor’s appointments, massages, acupuncture and chiro taking up my free time, my back and neck complaining when I tried to return to my mat. My brain took over and I moved into an ugly space ruled by negative thoughts and feelings–anger, pain, and a sense of injustice. Most likely, I was not in an emotional space to hear the messages yoga wanted to share. I got better… but my routine was broken and I stopped my yoga practice, with just an occasional online class here and there in my “home studio” (aka a mat in my office that my dogs love to nap on).
A conversation with a friend reminded me of my love for yoga and the intuition I access when on my mat. When the following morning offered up an open calendar, I rode the wave of momentum and showed up for one of my favorite teacher’s classes. It was the first time I walked into the studio in almost a year. The judging mind chattered away–”you’ll melt or pass out in the heat, your balance will be awful and you’ll fall, you’re out of shape and soft, people will wonder where the heck you’ve been, maybe you don’t have a right to be here anyway. Maybe you really don’t belong.”
About halfway through the practice, muscles shaking and soaked in sweat, I took a moment to put my forehead to the mat in recovery. My most quiet inner voice whispered softly, but confidently, “Be gentle.” The simplicity and weight of this statement shook me, my tears mixing with the sweat on my face. I truly believe we are here for temporary reasons, and these earthly bodies are our only conduits to this wonderful world we experience. Being a kind shepherd to that body and its journey through the world–in thought, in deed, in how we care for ourselves and care for those around us–helps us to do whatever those Great Things are that we are each uniquely placed here to do. When I connect with myself in kindness, I can let go of anger and the desire to escape from unpleasantness. Instead, I can accept and honor my experience without becoming mired in it, and allow myself to rise to challenges with grace rather than fear,
So today, be gentle. Surround yourself with love. Be a good shepherd to what you let in–what you read and expose yourself to, what you eat and how you move your body, and how you talk: to yourself, about yourself, and to others. You are a singular manifestation of what is and all that can be, and you have a unique journey to experience and to share with the world. Let gentleness guide you and brighten your day, and you’re sure to enlighten the lives of those you encounter along your path.
Not so connected to your own inner voice–your intuition, your wisdom, maybe you think of it as soul or spirit? Try sitting in stillness. Check in with your body, your heart, and your thoughts as a curious and interested observer. Rather than reacting to strong emotions, assess, explore, and understand them. Emotions, I believe, are a window to our value system. Once we’ve accessed these values, we can choose the behaviors that will help us bring our actions into alignment with our driving force.
Using these guiding principles allows you as a business owner to establish a business built on a values-laden scaffold. Your policies and procedures, your interactions with clients and referral sources, and even how you talk about the work that you do will feel more authentic and attuned to who you are when it reflects your core value system. Properly aligned, you can then move to a space of confidence and compassion in your policies, your interactions, and even your marketing voice.
Lost that gentle inner guide? Don’t worry, she’s still there. Be gentle and tune in, and you’ll find her. Need help? I would love to chat and support you in building or redefining your practice in the way that is just right for you. Have a beautiful and gentle day.