Compassion for the outer world starts with compassion for yourself.
„Rest in deep peace and sense that you are the living expression of compassion.” says Yogarupa Rod Stryker in the meditation Self-compassion 2.0 (Sanctuary App). But what does that mean “living expression of compassion?”. This meditation is a peaceful flow which leads you deep into yourself. The introduction starts with “abide in the deepest mental and emotional foundation for faith, self-acceptance and peace.” This is the place where you find compassion, this is the place where your journey starts. Every so often we look for compassion on the outside, we feel compassionate for someone or something, but are we also able to direct compassion towards ourselves?
My route to self-compassion
I never was a sports junkie. I was not an anti-athlete neither, but I couldn’t bring myself to a regular training. But then I found Yoga and suddenly it was naturally to move myself every morning for at least 30 minutes. I loved to see the transformation in my body. I became more flexible, and my core and other muscles got stronger. My main goal was to master the law of physics and to hold a free handstand.
After a year, I nearly had it!
And I got my first shoulder injury. I only slightly adjusted my practice and after 4 months, I was able to restart my practice. I found new teachers and started with stronger sessions to strengthen my muscles. A year after my first shoulder injury, I developed a frozen shoulder on the other side. It basically is an inflammation of the joint capsule and its surrounding tissue. First you feel a sudden pain in your shoulder and over a couple of weeks the joint stiffens, so that your arm is restricted in its movement. After a couple of months, the movement gets easier and eventually back to normal (ideally supported by physiotherapy). It can take 6-12 months for the shoulder to heal, in some cases even longer. The reason for this injury can be manifold and often can’t be related to only one fact.
Even as my joint did hurt, I did not stop doing Yoga as my orthopedic suggested that movement is good. But he didn’t know the depths of my practice and so I continued to strain the shoulder joint. To be honest, at some point, I already felt that my practice didn’t help, but I continued. In the end, you never know what things come together, but I know, that I didn’t listen to my body carefully enough, I had no compassion for myself, which definitely didn’t helped me mitigating the symptoms of my frozen shoulder.
Self-compassion starts in the odd moments
I’m still recovering from the frozen shoulder, which started sometime in September 2020 and I finally adapted my practice to mostly back friendly stretching positions using blocks and props as best as I can. Last Sunday, while doing Yoga, I hit my little toe against a Yoga block – it was spread apart and started hurting, but my first attempt was to continue. But then I stopped, cooled it, and lay the foot on a pillow. I had to clear my perspective to realize that making a break is an option. Sometimes it doesn’t need much to change your perspective. Shift your awareness to the part which is unseen. Compassion for the outer world starts with compassion for yourself.
We don’t need to always push harder; we must stop thinking that giving up is a failure. Sometimes our bodies or minds need a break, and we are well advised to listen to them. This is self-compassion, and it starts with self-awareness.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”