One thing parenthood is good for on the path to spiritual growth is showing us our limitations. Last Friday I met a few of mine and let me tell you…they are a scary looking bunch. The sort of fellows a girl doesn’t want to find her self alone with in a dark alley.
Last week, I got feedback from a near stranger that nailed me right between the eyes. She took one of my greatest strengths – being a leader – and flipped it over to expose me for the equally poor follower that I am. This feedback wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to hear. It sort of knocked me off my feet because on some level, I knew she was right. She had seen a flaw in me and she let me know it, leaving me to stare straight at this glaring hole in the fabric of what is “me”. I could only agree with her. I had been a poor follower.
It dawned on me that this is the way of the world. So often our greatest gift, turned upside down, is also our greatest weakness. Think about it. A person praised for being truthful might at times be criticized for being harsh, a gentle spirit might be perceived as weak, a good listener as closed lipped and an open book sort of friend as a not so very good listener; for every gift a challenge.
Now I had a choice. I could sit around and beat myself up about this all weekend or I could go in another direction with this self revelation. I could practice what my yoga teacher has been inviting me to practice class after class…namely compassionate self love. Why not?
Turns out the next day I had signed up to be on this overnight yoga retreat. NICE. Coincidence? I think not. Just what the doctor ordered. A day and a half of yoga, nature, breathing, movement, stillness and silence to help me try on this thing called compassionate self love. Before I entered into this new place…I cried. I let the feelings in and cried. Not a lot of drama-sort-of-cry; more like a hanging out with an old friend and then saying goodbye sort-of-cry.
And then it happened. I went on retreat and somewhere in the silence of a day and a half silent retreat with 15 women I didn’t know and my yoga teacher Chris, between the movement and the stillness of it all, I fell completely and totally in love with myself. I really did; even with those parts of me that just the day before made my stomach churn. I was sitting in our final meditation of the first night when I heard the voice from within. It was a sweet, deep, loving voice. It said, “Hi. Did you know I love you just the way you are?” “You DO?!?” I said back…”Really?” “Yes” the voice answered back simply. “Yes.”
And so it was that by the end of this conversation in my head that I found my mantra. ‘I love myself. I am enough.” And in this moment I stopped struggling to be better, to be more. I felt a burning love deep inside me, a fire fueled equally by my gifts, my weaknesses and my flaws.
Moms and dads, this week, as we see ourselves for who we are and who we are NOT, as we see our kids for who they are and who they are not, let’s see if we can love whatever shows up. Maybe, just maybe our kids will grow up knowing and loving themselves because of and more importantly in spite of who they are. Compassionate self love: a lesson worth learning.
“It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. …As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” –Marianne Williamson
Suzanne, aka Zen Mommy
In addition to mommying to two magical girls born in 2000 and 2003, Suzanne owns a holistic health center in St. Louis, Missouri where she practices as a physical therapist, Certified Infant Massage Instructor and health education teacher. Certified in a number of healing and life education approaches, Suzanne offers life coaching as Zen Mommy Coach and parenting tips through the positive parenting e-Book Yogi Parenting.