My twin daughters and I have recently become fans of Adele’s music (admittedly late to the game), and we love her new album. The first song we heard was “Easy on Me” and, while the lyrics seem to indicate that Adele is aiming this plea at a particular individual, the song itself feels like good advice for humankind in this moment. We’ve all been through so much, could we maybe have a little civility and go easy on each other right now? I’ve also taken it on as a note-to-self, or personal motto, giving myself more grace, reminding me to go easy on me, babe.
Me giving myself permission to “go easy” may sound like slacking, and maybe sometimes that’s what it is. But it’s also an act of self-compassion, a reminder to drop the self-criticism and to take some of the constant pressure off.
According to science, it turns out practicing self-compassion can have a better result than pushing ourselves hard, imposing strict rules, diets, and other “self-improvement” methods. And it’s also the key to resilience, which will be key as we evolve beyond this pandemic.
Dr. Emma Seppala at Stamford’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education explains this: “Scientific data shows that self-criticism makes us weaker in the face of failure, more emotional, and less likely to assimilate lessons from our failures. Studies are finding that there is a far better alternative to self-criticism: self-compassion.” She goes on to write, “Self-compassion involves treating oneself as one would a friend, being more mindful, and understanding our situation in the context of a larger human experience. When we can be more understanding and gentler with ourselves, identify less with the emotions that surround our mistakes, and understand that failure is a normal part of the larger human experience, we become stronger and more successful in the long run. We become stronger and more resilient. And, as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar so simply puts it, the state of your life depends on the state of your mind. So be kind to yourself.”
If you’re ready to lean into this and would like to learn more, then I invite you to a live virtual workshop next Tuesday Feb 15 from 4:30-7:00pm MT entitled “The Science of Self Love.” It will be taught by one of our own yoga therapists in training, Erin Alexander, and she’ll help us understand the scientific (and spiritual) nature of self-love and offer practical, therapeutic practices for attending to all parts of who you are. I’ll be there, and I hope you will be too. Details and registration here.
Meanwhile, here’s to going easy on you.
Yours in Yoga,
Michele Lawrence, Director
Inner Peace Yoga Therapy
Reference: The Scientific Benefits of Self Compassion