Let me give you a little intro as to what stimulated this practice that I'm incorporating daily into my life and sharing with students and clients. A few weeks ago, I spilled some chamomile tea onto my computer as I was trying to wind down from a busy day of work and was on my computer later than I wanted to, composing homework for a group of students I am mentoring. In a moment of busy-ness doing this, kaphlewy, chamomile tea upon my MacBook. It was toast!
I was up the whole night, not a wink of sleep as my bed partner was a voice of blame and hatred: "How could you be SO careless? What's wrong with you? Why were you trying to jam in more to your day? You are such a failure!"
As much as I've spent my life working on these kinds of destructive energies that are part of being human, I was caught in this web of self-hatred. Forgiving myself for this honest human mistake was beyond my capacity at 3 a.m.
Fast forward to post Thanksgiving as I get sick with a cold. Now I was upset with my body for getting sick. Yeah, like "it" had a choice! I'm also not such a good patient when I'm sick and I'm not being productive. Flowing over me are these weird wafts of thoughts like "my world is falling apart if I'm not working", which can consume me as I'm sniffling!
I needed KINDNESS is what I felt hit me like a ton of loving bricks!
The light bulb went on, "I need a kindness practice!" It was evident that under stress, in place of kindness meeting my experience, an energy of judgment, rejection and fear often met my experience.
I know that there are many practices we all do that express kindness to ourselves and I'd like to share one with you that I came up with a few years ago when I led my Open Your Heart workshop at Kripalu: it's called the voice of kindness.
This is a journaling exercise where you engage two voices into your journaling experience: one voice is the "you" as the one who is sharing or revealing anything you are currently struggling with or challenged by. The second voice is the "you" that is an expression of the energy of kindness that lives within your own heart and mind.
So, both voices are you. I don't think you need to strengthen or cultivate the voice of struggle or challenge, but we all do need to cultivate or strengthen the presence of kindness in our minds, hearts and nervous systems!
As I've shared previously in my e-news offerings about the nervous system, the ventral vagus parasympathetic part of you that truly heals our body, mind and souls will be toned or strengthened with this practice!
I mentioned that we don't need to strengthen our voice of struggle, but truth be told we need to strengthen our capacity to share our struggle vs. have our struggles simply be stuck or held in our minds and bodies.
Some of you may share your struggles with a friend, lover, therapist or whomever...but sometimes the ease of sharing your struggles on a piece of paper can be for some of us the safest way to go, where we know that empty paper has the time and space to hear our experience!
We all need to open up and share what's caught up inside us! Then we don't want to leave that lost on the page with no response. Our distress NEEDS something beyond simply getting out. It needs to be held in kindness, respect, understanding, even love!
A simple and brief example from when I was a bit sick with this cold and was considering whether to cancel clients for that day:
Voice of Kindness: Hi Dan, I see you struggling with whether to cancel clients today.
Dan: Yes, I feel some pressure to show up to work and not disappoint people. Plus, there's some feeling of "no worth" if I am not engaged in my work and am sitting around the house sniffling!
Voice of Kindness: Dearest Dan, people will be OK without their session today as you hang out with me in the house and feel kindness as you have worth in just being.
Dan: That's so hard for me.
Voice of Kindness: Which part is hard for you?
Dan: To just hang out in the house and not be "productive" and be met with kindness vs. pressure as well as to feel my worth has nothing to do with what "good" I do for others and to feel some inherent worth in just being, even as I'm being and watching Netflix!
Voice of Kindness: I so hear you and please know that what I'm sharing with you is the truth: it is OK to not be productive in the sense that you are holding it and to know that in a deeper way you are being productive through nurturing yourself as you don't feel well!
Much more but for now, The End
Hopefully, you have a sense of how to tackle this back and forth conversation between the 2 you's: The "you" that is struggling with something and the "you" that is rooted in kindness! I hope you get lots of value from this practice, a wonderful experience to usher in the new year with-a gift of kindness to yourself!