Last weekend, I had the lovely opportunity to lead a yoga + women’s circle for @hellomytribe and an incredible group of women, many of whom were new moms. Our night was themed around self-care, and thus intrinsically, self-compassion.
Before yoga, I had the women answer three questions:
What are you ready to let go of?
What are you ready to make room for / cultivate?
How is this in service to loving yourself more?
After a fluid vinyasa practice, we settled in to ask ourselves some questions about how we approached self-care. We addressed the issue everyone (especially a women trying to do everything) faces: tackling The Beast. The Beast is the part of you that criticizes everything — your decision to spend money on a massage, to leave your kid while you go to yoga, the one who says you’re never going to be as good as that perfectly put-together mom you follow on Instagram. The Beast is mean; it is the part of you that squashes your attempts to follow your gut and do what you know is best. So how do we fight the Beast?
This is where your Compassionate Self comes in. Your Compassionate Self is the part of you that encourages taking good care of your body, mind, and soul, through practices you know you need and plenty of rest. Your Compassionate Self loves you unconditionally; she never criticizes, but instead tells you to stop being so hard on yourself. To be grateful for all you have. And that you deserve that extra hour of sleep or that session with your therapist that you’ve been putting off (regardless of who it inconveniences).
Through guided imagery, I had the women envision their Compassionate Self, and what they would say when their current self told them about the problems they’ve been struggling with. What would this loving, kind, and patient part of you say? How would she encourage you to embody self-love? How would she remind you that you’re beautiful, worthy, and deserve all the best? After a quiet moment with their Compassionate Self, the women wrote down what this part had told them. And all the answers were somewhat similar:
“This problem won’t matter at all in the long run.”
“You’re stronger than you think, and you’re going to be okay.”
“You don’t need to be the perfect version of a woman — what you are right now is pretty damn good.”
“I love you. No matter what.”
Not only were we all encouraged by the messages given to us by our Compassionate Self, but we realized that this part of us ALWAYS EXISTS. It’s not some made up part of you because you did an exercise; that’s just how we tap into it. It’s a part of you that has always lived within you, and always will. We just need to call on her more often. We need to pay attention to her quiet and kind voice. We need to listen to what she has to say, when the Beast is loudly beating us down. We need to pause for long enough for her to come through. Because her message has the potential to not just make us feel better, but to save us.
As with most things, tapping into compassion is a practice. And when it comes to fighting self-criticism, it will likely be a practice that you’ll be doing for the rest of your life. But it’s a practice that is strengthened with each time we do it. And slowly, but surely, we can make our Compassionate Self become just as strong as our Beast… or maybe, just maybe, even stronger.
So, like I told the women that night, as we all bonded over the human condition of always striving to be our best selves: The Beast might always have the first word, but he doesn’t need to have the last.
Want to do this meditation for yourself? Click here for the guided imagery audio for tapping into your Compassionate Self.