Friday, July 30, 2010

Question: Why is it so hard to be kind to yourself?

I've wondered about this for many years. I've made many attempts at self-kindness that didn't last. Last week, I found out I'm not alone in my quest, on Mahala Mazerov's blog, Luminous Heart, I joined the Summer of Lovingkindness Invitational.
Calling all practical idealists, hidden mystics, and people of good heart!
Please join me for 2 months of creative focus on love and lovingkindness.
Starting today, (July 1st) through August 31st, I invite you to share your words, art, wisdom, and stories — your questions, contemplations and experiences — in the Summer of Lovingkindness Invitational, #SOLI for short.

There are many wise and wonderful people joining, sharing and commenting. The other day, in a comment on her site, I found myself writing about an experience I had as a new mom.

Here's what I wrote:

As a mother of two, now grown, children, I can see that loving kindness truly bloomed in me as I nurtured my children. And it reminds me of an exchange between my own mother and I.

I had been home a few days after giving birth to my first child, a daughter, and I was giving her one of her first baths in a small baby sink in the bathroom. I’d carefully assembled all the needs, soap, shampoo, soft wash cloth and towel then, just as carefully and somewhat nervously, I undressed this little darling. While my mother looked on, I lowered her slowly into the bath and went about gently washing her smooth skin while taking in her tiny beauty from her dark hair and eyes, little lips and fingernails. As I was absorbed in the process of bathing my daugther, I didn’t notice that I did anything special, but as I finished up my mother said, “You did that all so gently. I never did that, I was in such a hurry and just scrubbed you.” When I looked over at her, curious, wondering if I was getting criticized, I could see amazement on her face. It was as if for the first time, she realized that she could have done it differently.

The act of bathing, feeding and holding my children was always done with loving kindness, I realize now. It just came naturally. Why, then, is it so hard to give that same care to myself?

Mahala used my experience and question as part of her next blog post, Tender Loving Care and many people had their own answers to my question.

The answers were illuminating, helpful, supportive and interesting. Some felt self kindness would make them selfish or self serving or a self kindness addict. Some felt loving kindness is an essential spiritual discipline. Some felt that being kind to themselves would transform their life.

What do you think? Are you as kind to yourself as you are to others? Do you need more Lovingkindness? How would you go about getting it for yourself? My sweet kitty, Terra sleeping on my feet feels like Lovingkindness to me. What ways do you find Lovingkindness for yourself?


Lisa said...

For most of us, self-care seems to come last. That's probably one reason our culture is so out of balance. My current effort is to make time to meditate for a few minutes every day to relieve stress and feel more centered. Why is it so hard to find a few minutes to do this??

Great kitty photo!

goldenbird said...

The story of bathing your daughter is beautiful. Like most women I have struggled with directing loving kindness toward myself most of my life, but in the last few years find myself getting a little better at it. I try to catch myself thinking or saying, "I want ..." and if it is possible, let myself have it, whether it is a pedicure, a walk near the shore, or a nap. It feels wonderful to say yes to myself.

I'm going to check out Luminous Heart.

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

Hi Lisa,
I agree with you...self-care and lovingkindness in our culture is not viewed as important and necessary and therefore creates an imbalance.

I'm glad you're doing your part of rebalance yourself and our culture with your new meditation routine. I know hard it is to 'find the time'. What works for me, when I remember, is to carve out the minutes before I hit the studio or computer in the morning and before I go to sleep at night.

Glad you liked my photo of Terra!

Susan Gallacher-Turner and Michael Turner said...

I'm so inspired by your progress in lovingkindness. I do think you've found the way...listening to yourself...and saying YES!

Yeah for you! Now to let myself take that nap...thanks for your idea and suppport.