Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Finding Compassion In Your Self Towards Your Self

The yoga mat is an invitation to stand right in the middle of your self, being fully present. So often we feel as though we are on the outside looking in, or somehow on the fringes of the circle where others seem to belong and we do not. Whether it is holidays or routines, we seem to easily separate ourselves from the core of our being, judging and dissecting instead of holding ourselves in compassionate acceptance.

Taking a few minutes on the mat to center yourself, you can sit or lie down. Closing your eyes, allow your breath to soften and deepen into a quiet belly breath for a few cycles. Crossing your arms across your chest, wrap your fingers around your upper ribs right under your arm pits, allowing your thumbs to rest pointing upwards like suspenders near your collar bones. Now breathe gently into your hands for a few minutes. Encourage your shoulder blades to soften into the mat if you are laying down or relax down your ribcage if you are sitting up. Gently release your hands to rest on your thighs or alongside your hips if reclining, palms up if that feels natural to you.

Bring to mind the feeling of gazing into the eyes of a being from whom you felt undemanding love. Perhaps you had a pet as a child, or have one now, or perhaps an infant or grandparent has looked into your eyes with full acceptance and non-judgment, simple wide open acceptance. If you have difficulty drawing up an image or feeling of this from another being, imagine you are the one staring at another being with this acceptance and openness, not measuring or qualifying, just fully willing to accept who they might be. Sometimes picturing a kitten or puppy, or small bird like a chickadee, can help bring up this feeling.

Once you have really focused your attention on this sensation, allow the warmth and fullness, softness and luminosity to flood you. Direct this open, accepting, compassion towards your own being, perhaps as though gently wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and flooding your inner core with lightness. Simply breathe and feel this non-demanding acceptance.

When your mind wanders bring it back to your breath gently expanding and contracting within your body. You can narrow your attention now to the coolness of the breath coming in through your nostrils, and the warmth of the air as it leaves your nostrils. Allow yourself to fully absorb that there is no judgment in the breath, there is nothing lacking in your being.

Gradually begin to move your wrists and ankles. If sitting, gently massage your thighs from hip to knee, and then your calves to your ankles. Pressing into your feet with your thumbs, smooth the energy from your heels to your big toes, from heels to the next toes, and then the next until you have gently massaged energy to flow into all the toes.

Encouraging your view in these wild windy days and crowded holidays, full of expectations and celebrations, from a deep core feeling of warmth and compassion for your self will help you understand that you are far from the outside looking in. Rather you are deeply rooted right in the center, just as you actually are, and breathing in and breathing out can remind you of this any time you remember to focus in on it.

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