Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all there is to do in the world?
I know I do.
When I wrote my Girl Effect post yesterday I wanted to remind you that the world can be made fairer, that girls everywhere can have more opportunities and greater freedom, that unjust global systems can be changed.
But I also want to remind you that:
- You don’t have to make all this happen yourself, and
- It’s still okay – more than okay – to enjoy the life you have and to take care of yourself and the people you love.
I’m still learning this myself. One of the lessons I learned in Afghanistan – and wrote about in Zen Under Fire (coming from Penguin NZ, March 2012) was exactly this…
The myth of the righteous martyr.
Because, if we are not separate, there can be no righteousness in sacrificing one’s own wellbeing to serve another. Kindness towards ourselves becomes essential to, and part of, our kindness towards others. There is no longer ‘us’ and ‘them’. There is only ‘us’.
This simple realization is so radical that it can inspire revolutionary acts in people.
When we stop beating ourselves up for being human and start extending a hand of genuine kindness to ourselves we start to find deep wells of kindness within ourselves which are then available to spread around wherever a little kindness is needed (i.e. pretty much everywhere).
So part of my purpose is to spread this revolution of kindness, to free people from the paralysis of self doubt so they can become a force for even greater good in the world.
Self-kindness is a radical act. It set us free to serve others, to live a life of courageous compassion, to create positive change.
If that all sounds a little esoteric for you, here’s the pragmatic bottom line. If we want to be a force for good in the world, taking care of ourselves is part of our workbecause we are our own most important tool.
In Afghanistan, I discovered that there were practices that helped keep me well, that kept my body, heart and mind soft and open and enabled me to serve. For me, these were the practices of yoga and meditation, and of collaboration with others.
Yoga releases tensions and toxins from my body and mind, so I can show up for my work ‘clean’, and it reminds me that we really are all one.
Meditation trains me to meet everything that arises with acceptance and compassion.
Collaboration keeps me honest, helps me see the best in others, and makes my service sustainable.
So a big part of my mission, now, is:
To take radical self-care and the revolution of kindness into the field.
And to bring ways for all of us to make a positive difference in the world into the home, the office, the yoga studio.
You can do good and be well.
And what you are ready to do today is enough.
This month I’m running my second annual Karma Yoga month. Last October we raised $15,000 for HIV/AIDs projects in South Africa and more than 300 of you joined me to get your yoga on. This year Karma Yoga is back.
You get to pay what-you-think-its-worth for my 30 Days of Yoga course (read the rave reviews here) and I donate 60% of what you pay to some really great causes, including an organisation that supports women and girls in Afghanistan.
You really can do good and be well. Find out more and sign up here.
And give generously. Because generosity is it’s own reward.