“I will be gentle with myself. / I will love myself. / I am a child of the Universe / Being born each moment.” ~Libana~
When I first heard that chant, it sounded a little hokey, a little woo, as we say these days. I didn’t get why it was important or what it meant.
Now it is essential to my spiritual practice.
I think there is too much “man up” in our lives.
I think there is too much, “put on your big girl panties” in the way we talk to ourselves.
I think there is too much, “suck it up,” even when it is true that we have to do things we don’t like or would rather not be doing.
We are mean to ourselves, and the language we use in our heads has consequences.
For me, the consequences of such pushing through have included months of exhaustion, the onset of a potentially life-threatening condition, emotional instability, and a growing disappointment of myself and others.
What have the consequences of meanness been for you?
What does being gentle mean to you?
Can you do it? Do you believe it’s a good idea?
Be clear: I’m not saying that persistence, exertion, dedication, practice, or discipline is bad. Not at all! In fact, they are essential to a mature, healthy, adult life.
None of those things need be counter to gentleness.
You can try really hard, push yourself to play with your edges, and still be gentle.
Gentleness is not turning aside from discipline or difficult things.
Gentleness is more like humility—the recognition of who and how you are. And loving that you. Learning—paying attention to—what helps you and what hurts you. And just doing your best to nurture yourself.
Some gentleness is acknowledging that you need hard physical activity to be happy, centered, and well—and giving yourself the time for that activity on a regular basis.
Some gentleness is making a spiritual practice out of the hardest things in our lives. (monitoring mental illness and parenting both come to mind, for some reason!)
I’m going to be thinking more about this whole idea. I hope that you’ll let me know what you think. How does gentleness manifest for you? What are its fruits? When have you thought you were being gentle, but you were just checking out? What’s the difference? Tell me tell me!