What is the kindest thing?

Reflections on the practice of self-compassion.

I start to feel the pressure in my forehead mount, as the pain in my neck expands, and the surge of dizziness becomes stronger.  I’ve been on a roll washing some dishes in the kitchen sink but now my body calls out to me with a quiet intensity, asking me to allow it some rest.

Slowly but surely I’m learning how to listen to my body and respect what it needs, which can be quite frustrating when your mind wants it to do something else.

In a recent phone conversation with a life coach instructor, I explained how I quite literally take everything one bit at a time each day, focusing on how I can best take care of myself in everything I do.  She suggested that I ask myself a specific question periodically to help frame this focus.

So for the last few weeks, I’ve used the following question to guide my actions each day.

“What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?”

For me, it is often as simple as taking care of myself by drinking a class of water, eating a healthy snack, or taking a nap.  When I’m feeling up to it, it means taking time to do something I enjoy, like sitting down to do a little writing that could turn into a blog post.  And sometimes it requires taking actions that are in my best interest, like making a phone call I’ve been dreading because I care about the results I know it will bring.  But no matter what the specifics, the act of consciously considering and kindly responding to whatever my body, mind, or soul needs in any given moment makes everything I do feel more joyful.

The act of asking and answering this question with a genuine desire to know and a willingness to respond with love turns the idea of self-compassion into a practice.  It takes us from the space of thinking to a place of action, where we can welcome this kindness and care to become a part of our daily lives.

At some point during the day today, try asking yourself, “What is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?”  Maybe it will help you decide what to eat for dinner, allow you to realize what evening activity will be most fulfilling for your soul, or provide the space to uncover some painful thoughts you want to talk through with a friend.  Whatever it is, may asking with an open heart and responding with kindness help you treat yourself with the loving compassion that you deserve.

{July 11, 2014}

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