Compassion arises when we open ourselves to the tender and perhaps painful aspects
of ourselves, others and life’s experiences, with unconditional love, acceptance and
Compassion means to "suffer with.” Embodying the capacity to be there with someone, no matter what they are going through, as they are. We want them to be free of the suffering, but without the need to ‘fix’ them, judge them or label them. Regardless of how uncomfortable or pleasant it is - we will be by their side and get through it WITH them.
Imagine a world where we were compassionate to ourselves and others!!! **mind blown**
Compassion is the antidote to so many things. Research shows that self compassion increases our self worth and self esteem, and buffers us against stress, anger and depression. I know it’s potency, for it saved me last year.
As many of you may know, my dear mother passed away in January last year. Although she had been diagnosed with an incurable cancer nearly two years earlier. Nothing could prepare me for her passing.
I knew there would be tears and heartbreak, but I didn’t anticipate the physical and emotional exhaustion. The dark cloud of grief weighed heavy over me. To add to my own misery, many of my experiences were coated with judgement, loathing and meaning making.
There were days.
Why was practising yoga and meditation hard? Because it meant that I had to be with myself. I had to ’suffer with’ my grief, my loss, my frustrations and sadness. My emptiness, disbelief and fears.
Compassion takes Courage
It takes great courage to be with ourselves. To show up to our physical body, our emotions and thoughts. This is the gift of yoga and mindfulness. Always inviting ourselves back to ourselves. Inviting us to come home, however we are.
With kindness and compassion, I returned to the mat each day, even if that meant simply laying on bolsters and being still.
I showed up TO myself. I showed up FOR myself.
When difficult feelings arose, I resisted the temptation to distract myself and ‘feel better’. Instead, I turned toward these feelings, softly and let them in. When judgements or criticism arose (like those above) I gently reminded myself, “Cut yourself some slack Ange. Mum is gone. Forever.” Compassion allowed me to quieten the self-critic and transform my negative patterns. What sweet relief. To accept myself however I was in any moment.
I came to realise that this is what it means to be have felt great love and know that you will never see them again.
This is what it feels like to lose a part of yourself.
This is what it means to know love,
to feel loss.
to be alive.
to be human.
This is compassion.
This is courage.
This is love.
When the tough gets going, the tough...soften
When the lens that we look at ourselves and others through is coated in love, compassion and acceptance, the bravado that we protect ourselves with, the self-image we project onto others, the guarding walls around our heart gently cascade down. We crack open the shell and let the light in. Let the love in and start connecting with who and how we really are.
When we offer compassion to ourselves, it’s like receiving a warm hug from a loved one.
Rather than resisting feelings, we allow them in. To be felt and validated.
Feelings of sadness, grief, loss and despair, start to dissolve. Replaced with feelings of warmth and love.
We allow emotions to move through us, rather than weigh us down.
For me, respecting and experiencing these emotions allowed me to connect with why I was grieving…
I was loved.
I had experienced a love that was this hard to let go off.
Compassion became a gateway to gratitude.
Even on my darkest days, I knew the timeframe in which I felt this depth of sadness would narrow over time, but I did not set timelines or expectations as to when that would be.
I let myself be.
As time has passed by, I came to realise that although mum is no longer here on earth. Her love never left me.
Compassion invites understanding and joy
Through compassion we can experience the fullness of life in all of it’s extremes, difficulties and triumphs, sadness and joy.
We broaden our capacity to meet ourselves, our lives and others, in each moment. Through our own tragedies and struggles we realise that we are simply doing the best we can in any moment... and so is everyone else. We never know what others are going through and we certainly don’t have all the answers for them. But we notice if we are directing negative judgements onto them as we do to ourselves. Through awareness, compassion and courage we can learn to be WITH them. However they show up.
Compassion invites kindness, understanding and joy into our lives and relationships.
I know, without doubt, that I am more resilient, happy and confident in myself right now because of compassion. Life is a wild ride and in a world that perpetuations distractions, there are many invitations to avoid and suppress difficult experiences and emotions. Compassion allows us to explore and learn from these experiences in an adaptive way. We discover our capacity is far greater than we realise.
I learnt many lessons last year. Too many for one blog 😃. Through compassion, I discovered what genuine courage and strength meant and that I had it in abundance.
The most valuable lesson from last year? Through compassion I learnt how to love and accept myself. Even in the dark.
May we offer ourselves and one another love, compassion and acceptance - just as we are xo
I started practising yoga 9 years ago - I still vividly remember being at the back of room struggling to follow my teacher's instruction to keep the mind still and present.
Was that even possible? 🤔
It was a Saturday morning, invariably I had the list of all the things I didn't finish at work running through my mind and planning the weekend ahead. Stay present? My mind was whirling with too much stress and excitement.
I came to realise how much I lived in storylines. Replaying events from the past, anticipating future events and conversations, or simply day dreaming about a life that wasn't my own. I spent very little time in the present moment. Sound familiar?
Our Brains are Wired to Survive
The reality is that our brain has evolved to protect us from danger and help us survive. Hence, we analyse past events in the hope of anticipating threats, to plan our response and have a sense of control. This is a very adaptive function and critical in ensuring we don't run across oncoming traffic or walk down dark alleys with suspicious people lurking. Unfortunately, we have incorporated these practices of needing to analyse, plan and control into every aspect of our lives that are none threatening.
Rather than allowing a moment to unfold as it is, our brain is focusing on what "happened in the past", "should happen", "we want to happen", "scared will happen"... rather than what IS happening.
We miss out on savouring and experiencing OUR VERY OWN LIVES unfolding in the moment. If the lens of our awareness is so limited moment-to-moment - how much does this same lens limit how we see and connect with ourselves?????
Expanding Our Awareness
Yoga and Mindfulness practices invite us to ground and connect with the RIGHT NOW. Providing us with the tools to broaden the scope of our awareness to everything that is occurring in the present moment - the colour, texture, touch, temperature, smells, our thoughts and emotions. Every moment is infinite and boundless.. and so are we! 💕🌈✨
We are Infinite and Boundless
So much of the storylines I had about myself were bound up by past experiences, other peoples' expectations, judgments and fears, relationships and failures. I used to think...
I could go on, but you get my drift.
My yoga and mindfulness practice has taught me many things - mostly how much I don't know. I'm not disheartened by this. In fact, the more I accept that I don't know - that I don't have all the answers - the more open I am to truly knowing. The more trusting I am of allowing life to unfold as it is. Because no-matter how much we think we have control - we are wrong :) That's a wonderful thing, because we limit ourselves so much. We are boundless! YES!
Connecting to the wisdom within YOU!
Knowing myself isn't an intellectual exercise, it requires one to drop down from the 'rational' protective brain into our body-mind. The heart and belly have so much wisdom to share, but we must be quiet enough to listen.
This is the inspiration for my upcoming event on Friday March 24 - An Evening of Connection @ Yogabowl ~ Corporate & Yoga Services. An evening of Yoga and Mindfulness to deeply accept, embrace and connect with ourselves, in the moment. Creating a space where you can explore and discover the infinite and boundless beauty, wonder and wisdom within. I would love to have you there.
Check out my Facebook event page or purchase tickets directly through Eventbrite. Be sure to take advantage of early bird pricing, which ends 1 March.
Love and light
Photo: Taken by Alex McCulloch at my favourite spot to be still, chill and soak in the beautiful Harbour views - Waverton Park.
I’m a firm believer that our intentions become our beliefs, which determines our actions, define how we experience each moment, each of those moments culminate into a lifetime. So today, I’m quieting the biggest obstacle toward my goals.
Me, the self-critic.
I've started writing this piece many times over the past two years. I've procrastinated, faffed, avoided, hesitated, again and again. Finally, no more.
I have a dream, more crystallised than that. A clear vision.
So let It be written, so let it be done :)
Ange’s place isn’t simply the name of my website or facebook page where I share my weekly musings and yoga offerings. Although that is certainly a part of it. It will one day be a physical location a fusion of my love for creative expression, food, tea, friends & family, yoga and psychology. A cozy and contemporary space - part café, yoga studio and psychology practice, with the intent to satisfy a simple yet potent human need...
We live in a time of history where there is an endless list of ways to communicate, yet I truly believe, many in society are starved of genuine connection. Whole-hearted, all-in, honest and trusting relationships with our family, friends, our neighbors and sadly, with ourselves. We all seek connection in our own unique way and I want to create a space that allows each of us to do that.
A place where you can come in on your own,
sip a cup of tea, read a book or rest.
Join a friend, share a meal, a drink, a conversation.
Laugh or cry.
Be surrounded by friends, family or perhaps connect with strangers you only just met - banter, chill or play a game of uno :)
Come to nourish your body, mind and heart through nutrient rich organic food, the healing practices of yoga and meditation or book a private appointment to see me as a psychologist.
The more I practice yoga, meditate and study psychology the more I see their complementary power to heal. My journey as a yoga teacher has begun and my ability to practice as a psychologist is many years away still, however I’m loving the journey of strengthening my understanding and integration of eastern and western approaches to achieving optimum wellbeing.
Part of my goal is to eradicate the taboo of counseling and therapy. Debunk the notion that there is something 'wrong' with you if you seek help, instead you just want to be a better person and live a happier healthier life. Seeking help is a courageous act of kindness to yourself and should be as ‘normal’ as seeing a Dr for a cold, going to a café or joining a yoga class. Hence, why they are all under one roof.
And yet, if I was truly honest and open, I want something much more simple than Ange’s Place, yet far more elusive to me. I seek love. I have love in my life – love for myself, from my family and friends. What I would love more than anything is to give and receive love from the greatest loves of my life…that I am yet to meet. To have a family and to experience love as a wife and mother. That’s really hard to admit and put in black and white. Eek! There was once upon a time when ‘old Ange’ would have said that was settling, getting soft or giving in to the traditional woman’s role. Yet now I see the old Ange was simply protecting her heart. The older (and wiser) I become, I realise there is more strength in vulnerability than in wearing armour.
By expressing my vision, I set them free from the burrows of my consciousness.
I set them in motion.
I genuinely believe that Ange’s Place will become a reality, I don’t know when, nor where her door’s will open. I’m hoping to open up the café and yoga studio within the next year or two, then expand into the Psychology practice when I’m registered. I’m not wedded to any set timelines or approaches. Perhaps I will do it alone or with a business partner or investor…
Do you know someone?
Are you that someone?
Do you share a similar vision?
Get in touch!
Thank you for indulging me with your time and attention.
I hope to welcome you to Ange's Place very soon.
Hi, I'm Ange.