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Self-Care Minder

Exploring Womanhood > Mind, Body & Soul > Self-Care Minder

Non-violence and Truth to Your Life
by Jennifer Louden

I went to a new (to me) yoga class last week and the teacher said, "When we go into a pose, we can listen to our ego, which says, 'Push, push, go lower, go deeper,' or we can practice non-violence (in Sanskrit ahimsa) and truth (sattva)."

Non-violence toward ourselves = self-kindness. I won't bully myself to do better. I will love myself into doing what is best for me.

Truth = I won't indulge lies in my private conversations. I won't stick my head in the sand and pretend I am eating more veggies or standing up to my belligerent boss. I will look at what is . . .

and

I won't beat myself as I do it.

This week, back from more than a month spent mostly on vacation, I am attempting to launch back into writing my novel, with a self-imposed deadline of my 40th birthday, which is in 3 months. The writing has not been going well -- I have pieces of the novel all over the place, I'm having trouble with many of the plot points, I keep starting and stopping. I've spent a lot of time this week "avoiding what I love."

I could beat myself up for my lack of steadfastness or I could choose to sit quietly, as I did yesterday, and gently face the truth -- without judgment. I have written 5 of the 7 days I declared I would. I have written 4 of the 20 hours I promised myself I would this week. That is the fact. I watch myself face this fact and immediately go to my "story" of how tomorrow will be different, then ricochet over to what a worthless bum I am, how can I coach other writers and creative people when I'm skipping out? Then the drama sets in, "You've never had a problem writing before. Maybe you've lost the ability. Maybe you aren't supposed to be a novelist. Maybe you'll starve to death and never accomplish anything."

Now I have a choice. I can gently bring my mind back to the fact, "I wrote 4 hours in the last 6 days." Then I can compassionately ask myself: "What can I choose to do next that might produce a different result? What requests could I make of others to help me? How can I be kind to myself while writing this novel?"

Can you feel the difference? Notice that I had to stop (always we have to stop running). Notice I listened to all the rabble babble inside and I kept bringing myself back to what is -- 5 hours of writing this week. My mind wants to run away from that. Often we hold our minds still by rubbing its nose in what is painful -- like the old way to train a puppy to not pee in the house. Instead, I held my mind's hand -- gently helping it stay focused on what is. Notice how I finally brought my attention to future actions that could produce different results given that I am observing what is from a different perspective.

Here are some ideas on how to apply the twin concepts of non-violence and truth to your life:

  1. When you notice yourself beating yourself up or avoiding the truth about a situation, take a moment to check in with your body. What sensations are you experiencing? Be with your body for several moments and notice what it is doing without judging or deciding why. Just notice.

  2. Stop making promises to yourself that you have no intention or ability to keep (Forget "I will always be kind to my sister/mother/co-worker" or "I will never eat chocolate again" -- you can only fail.) Decide to only make promises that include clear conditions of satisfaction -- you will know when you have kept the promise. For example, "I will exercise for 45 minutes 3 times a week." "I will write one hour six days a week."

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  3. When you suspect you're avoiding being honest with yourself, stop, breathe and ask yourself, "What are the facts?" Hint: facts do not contain any adverbs or adjectives, they can be proven or supported (to a certain degree), and there are usually very few. A fact or assertion is "I wrote 4 hours in the 6 days." Not "I wrote three bad pages of a bad novel in 6 days."

  4. Also ask yourself, "What could I do in this moment to love myself into creating a different outcome?"

Many years ago, a friend of mine was arrested for a DUI in junior college. His father bailed him out and brought him home. The first thing his mother did when he walked in the door was open her arms wide and give him a great, big hug.

Our ability to face who we are and what our potential is greatly enhanced when we can first open our arms and give ourselves one of those great, big hugs.

Copyright 2002 Jennifer Louden.

Jennifer LoudenJennifer Louden is a best-selling author of The Woman's Comfort Book, The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life and three other titles. You can visit her popular website at ComfortQueen.com where over 600 articles about self-care, an interactive Inner Organizer, and a wonderful CQ store await you. Jennifer also works with a few clients at a time as a life coach.

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