This is a story of how self-compassion can be just a moment. A small moment of being kind, being gentle, being loving towards yourself. And how simple yet challenging that can be.
One of my knees can cause me some grief. It can be painful when I’m bending it. When it gets bad, I use a large foam roller and roll my upper leg over it. It helps – quite a bit. The rolling itself hurts but if I do it consistently, the rolling hurts less and my knee feels much better.
A few weeks ago, my knee had been painful again and I was sporadically using the roller. One day in the middle of this, I went to yoga. During the class, my knee hurt – a lot – and I couldn’t do all the poses. In the middle of the class, I began to get quite angry with myself and began thinking things like, “I should have been rolling my leg more” and, “Why can’t I just get it together and look after myself.” Then I had one of those “ah-ha” moments. “This,” I thought, “is not being kind, gentle or loving to myself.”
I began to change my thinking. “It is what it is,” I thought. “I can’t do anything here or now about not rolling my leg and I’m making it worse by beating myself up.” I started to just notice the sensation in my knee and track it. I noticed when it felt more intense, and when it subsided. I tried to pinpoint the exact location of the sensation in my knee. My thoughts became, “Oh, my knee is hurting me more than I thought.” And it wasn’t to blame myself or wish I had done something that I hadn’t. It was just to notice.
And it helped. I felt less hard towards myself. My body and my thoughts felt softer. I was more present, noticing my body in the moment rather than dwelling on what I hadn’t done in the past.
Sounds easy. And there is a simplicity about it. But doing it, catching myself in those moments and just noticing instead of judging, is really challenging. Being aware in that moment in the middle of class that I was judging myself was not easy. I’ve attended many, many yoga classes where I haven’t caught my thinking. And then, once I had noticed my self-critisim, knowing what to replace those unhelpful thoughts with was difficult.
One of my favourite phrases for lovingkindness practice is, “May I live with ease.” There is something about the phrase, “Live with ease” that for me reminds me that we’re all just doing our best to live smoothly, gently and easily. For me, practicing these small moments of self-compassion embodies living with ease.
May we all live with ease. May we all find those small moments of self-compassion.