You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. Buddha
When I was around 30, I used to visit an amazing healer and gifted yoga teacher for a weekly massage. An antidote to my very stressful communications job, I would live for these sessions. At the end of every visit after I dressed and prepared to leave her sweet gingerbread home nested in her fairy-like garden, she would hand me lemongrass-infused water to sip on and remind me, “Renee, be gentle with yourself.” I took these words in the best I could, but my capacity to fully understand the depth of their meaning was limited. I was still grieving from the loss of my brother and father and had many more years of releasing and healing to do before I could begin practicing loving kindness towards myself.
Twenty years later, I hear Joyce’s words cross my consciousness almost daily. For the past 16+ years I have studied/practiced/taught the art and science of self-care to men and women. And, I am particularly grateful for this life-altering practice during the holidays—a time when we can feel fragile and out of sorts. Between changes to our schedules, spending habits, diets, exercise routines and pace, the holidays can also dredge up memories of loss, unfulfilled and unrealistic expectations, depression/anxiety as well as sadness and loneliness.
It’s a time when we should really be practicing gentleness, acceptance and kindness towards ourselves– in spades.
What does “being gentle with yourself” during the holidays look like? For me, it’s:
•releasing perfectionism and practicing “good is good enough”–some years my gift giving is thoughtful and prolific, others it’s simple and lean; it all depends how resourced I am feeling
•creating more spaciousness in December and January –building in time for stillness, journaling, reflection and contemplation as I know these are charged times, ripe with big emotions
•listening more than talking and choosing my words mindfully (do I really need to respond to that inflammatory comment my aunt just made?!)
•moving a lot: yoga, dance, qi gong, walks in nature all help me “feel to heal” as I remind myself, “the issues are in the tissues”
•remembering that moment to moment I can choose love or fear (read more) and ultimately-do I want to be “right or be in relationship”?
How can you be more gentle with yourself this holiday? I wish when I was 30 someone would have told me “your ordinary self is enough” (thanks Carol) and that I don’t have to fall on my knees after walking 100 miles or do great deeds to be worthy enough to practice gentleness and compassion towards myself. We treat a small child with kindness when they’re tired, cranky or hungry; we too, deserve this same level of empathy and care every single day.
I’D LOVE TO SUPPORT YOU IN JANUARY: Two opportunities to learn the art/science of self-care and move into 2016 with greater self-compassion. Join me Jan. 8th for a one-day retreat: New Way of Being: Winter Self-Renewal Retreat at a sweet, cozy, venue nested in the piney woods, just east of Austin. Already half-full, register today; early bird ends Dec. 6th! And if you can carve out a weekend, join me Friday night-Sunday noon for my soulful, meditative New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat at the beautiful, restful Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, MA. I look forward to celebrating my 50th birthday with you at both of these events! More about both events here.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teacher/coach/self-care evangelist and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering custom workshops, women’s retreats, training/certification, books/telecourses and individual career coaching, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 13 year-old son. More on her background here.