Why kindness has become my greatest intention...
I was thinking about my big why today.
It is so important to keep coming back to the question 'why' on a regular basis - particularly if you are are holding space for other people - as it helps you check in with your personal journey and refocuses you. (we all get a bit off track at some points - shiny things and all that!!)
As I did my regular 'check in' with my why, I took some time to contemplate what it is that draws me to do the work I do and whether what I am doing right now in my life and business is still in alignment with that why.
I thought about the actions I am currently taking and asked myself these three questions...
Why did I begin this journey in the first place and then feel the need to hold space for others to do similar?
Why do I get so excited about helping other people find their why and purpose in life?
Why is it that I feel the need to share my experiences through this blog and my social channels?
A combination between these questions and several conversations with some of my amazing yoga students today lead me to one thing.
I have been a very unkind person over the years. I have been unkind to people I love and I have been very, very unkind to myself. At the peak of my anxiety my default setting was to be unkind. It felt far safer to be mean and nasty than it did to nurture myself.
I thought that in order to 'beat' my anxiety demons I had to be harsh and aggressive. I took it upon myself to be emotionally shut down when it came to running my PR and marketing agency. I didn't believe I was worthy of other people's love and kindness so I disregarded compliments and other people's feelings.
But deep down, I knew in my heart that I am not an unkind person. My natural state is actually to be very generous - sometimes to my detriment. However when I fall out of alignment with my purpose in life I tend to notice 'mean Lauren' daring to show her face.
She used to have full residency in my life - but she is starting to get the message that she isn't welcome any more.
When something triggers me - which can be anything from self doubt creeping in to someone saying or doing something that presses my buttons (yes even space holders have buttons!) - that inner mean girl shows her face again. Her appearance is a red flag to me and a great warning signal that I am perhaps not facing up to a feeling that needs to be acknowledged!
I have talked about Ahimsa many times before on this blog and my social platforms. Ahimsa is one of the Yamas in Patanjali's Eight Limbs of Yoga and translates to non violence. Non violence of course towards other beings and the world we live in, but in my opinion, most importantly, non violence towards ourselves.
The biggest lesson I have learned so far in my life is the importance of practising kindness towards myself. If I am treating myself kindly - which means doing things that feed my soul, running my business from a place of compassion, doing things that matter deeply to me, feeling fulfilled in myself, practicing self care and self like - then I find it so much easier to be kind to others. Yes... even when they push buttons or behave in a questionable way!
Through kindness, I can be more supportive, loyal, loving and understanding. And when others feel 'heard' or 'seen', they are far more able to turn that kindness towards themselves and then on to others. Kindness helps to breed kindness.
Kindness is sometimes very, very hard to reach.
Admittedly - being kind isn't always an instant action. It takes time and patience - both when practising kindness towards yourself and towards others - but if we can start to see kindness like a meditation practice, i.e. each time we find ourselves getting distracted and coming away from kindness, acknowledging it without judgement and then gently guiding ourselves back to a compassionate place (just like we do with the breath in meditation), then progress will naturally occur.
It can be very, very hard to practice kindness when there are some horrendous atrocities occurring in the world around us and when faced with adversity and challenges. And I am by no means suggesting that we need to pretend our emotions don't exist and suppress them with fluffy bows and positivity. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for ourselves is to allow our emotions to flow - let anger and sadness come up without criticising ourselves for feeling them.
Let me bring this back to my whys.
My own journey has been, and still is, a process of learning how to be more consistently kind to myself. Kind to my body when it comes to the movement I choose to do, the food I eat and the amount of rest I gift myself. Kind to my mind when it comes to loving my anxieties and feeding my curiosity with learning and education. Kind to my soul by giving it the things that it needs like being in nature, embracing my creativity and bathing under a full moon.
I have become highly aware of how unkind other people can be towards themselves. I see beautiful woman punish their body with restrictive eating patterns and brutal exercise regimes. I hear students talk about how rubbish their balance is, or how 'bad' their flexibility is. I watch the most talented ladies stop themselves from making progress in their business or personal lives because they don't feel worthy enough to invest in themselves or believe that they are capable of the visions they dream of.
By staying focused on my why, my intention to both learn and teach kindness, I can be sure that I am aligned with my purpose and can serve others, as well as myself, as I grow, evolve and transform each and every day.
Let me leave you with one of my favourite quotes...
"Kindness. It doesn't cost a damn thing. Sprinkle that sh*t everywhere."
Share your thoughts, ideas and questions with me in the comments below or email me directly to tell me how you practice kindness (or perhaps how you struggle with it as I did!).
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