Two years ago, more self-compassion become my mantra. As a yoga teacher, I am grateful to have access to the tools to enhance self-compassion, but as a busy mom of two young children and a full-time job, I still often feel like I’m being pushed and pulled in many directions — sometimes within the same moment. So many priorities need my compassionate attention that it’s easy to forget that I need compassion, too — in the form of being more kind to myself and forgiving myself more often.
As a recovering perfectionist, I have the tendency to lean toward persistence and to do it all. My self-compassion mantra helped me realize that I actually can’t do it all without help (nor do I need to).
Mantras, like positive affirmations, manifest in the mind first so that they can be actualized in reality. Drawing upon my yoga and meditation practice over the last decade, here are three practices that have helped me breathe life into my mantra.
Meditate with a Mantra and a Mala
Around the same time of declaring my commitment to cultivating more self-compassion, I received a beautiful string of mala beads (a string of 108 prayer beads often used in japa, or mantra meditation) as a gift. The mala was made with amazonite and jasper — stones that can help inspire more compassion and understanding. This mala amplified my mantra: “I am compassionate.”
As my thumb and middle fingers crossed each bead, I silently repeated, “I am compassionate.” Sometimes, I would say my mantra out loud, boldly professing it to the universe. Mindfully transitioning from one bead to the next, I felt a sense of stillness, grounding and inner peace — the foundation for my self-compassion to grow.
“I am compassionate.”
For more than a year, I practiced this for at least a few minutes every morning. Each time I practiced, I could feel the subtle growth of my self-compassion. For example, if I was too tired to get through my to-do list in the evening, I was more forgiving with myself. Instead of pushing past my exhaustion, I chose to be kinder to myself and go to bed early.
Although my mala collection has grown, I still practice increasing my self-compassion with this mala and mantra when I need to build my reserves.
Visualize Your Mantra
Another type of meditation that only takes a few moments (and one I practiced right after my mantra meditation with mala beads): the visualization meditation. It allowed me to imagine how to invite more self-compassion into my day.
In a comfortable seated position with my eyes closed, I visualized all the activities I would do that day — at work, picking up the kids, dinnertime, at the store — through the lens of compassion. I saw myself having conversations and interacting with others from a place of self-compassion. When these moments arrived in my day, I had already peacefully positioned myself to greet them.
I complemented these meditations by practicing one additional way to grow my self-compassion every day. Some days, I took time to slowly sip tea in the evening instead of dashing to do the dishes once the kids were in bed for the night. Other days, I read a book instead of folding the stacks of clothes in my laundry bins. Those things eventually got done, but it was my devotion to self-compassion that helped relieve some of the pressure I had placed on myself to do it all.
Once my mantra came to life, it was more seamless to find even more compassion for others because I had already built an abundance of self-compassion.
Are you looking to grow your self-compassion, too, or is there another mantra you have in mind? Choose your mantra and start manifesting it today with these practices.
Photo by Laura Brown of Laura Brown Photography. Photo reprinted from 108 Yoga and Self-Care Practices for Busy Mamas (MSI Press, 2019).
Julie M. Gentile helps busy people create better self-care habits as a yoga teacher (RYT 500), author of two award-winning books: 108 Yoga and Self-Care Practices for Busy Mamas and How to Stay Calm in Chaos: An Everyday Self-Care Guide, and creator of the Stand Up for Your Self-Care blog and YouTube Channel. Connect with her on Instagram and Facebook @JulieGtheYogi, and sign up for her monthly self-care newsletter Nourish Note at JulieGtheYogi.com.