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Zen Peacekeeper.







Be Well. Do Good. The Girl Effect and You.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 by Marianne Elliott

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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:

  1. You don’t have to make all this happen yourself, and
  2. 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.



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4 Responses to "Be Well. Do Good. The Girl Effect and You."

  1. Roxanne says:

    Marianne, your words about self-kindness being a radical act that sets us free have been traveling with me ever since I first encountered them a year ago. I have cited them in my own writing, have repeated them to colleagues in the field, and have whispered them to myself in tough times. I remain very grateful for them, and for you.

  2. Jasmine says:

    Marianne, Yes and Yes! I just learned this all over again after spending a few weeks doing disaster relief work in Vermont helping folks get back on their feet after Hurricane Irene hit.

    I was so inspired to be there and be helping but then so busy by all the work that needed to be done, all the people who needed to tell their story, that I started to forget to take care of myself. Big time. A good friend reminded me while she talked to me on the phone while I lay in the fetal position overcome and unwell in bed, “You have to put the oxygen mask on yourself first!”.

    Taking care of myself and remembering that there is no us and them is one of the biggest gifts we can offer the world. Thanks for reminding us and inspiring us in this way Marianne.

  3. Akhila says:

    Love this post and the reminder to care for yourself. I know I don’t do a good job of this, but mostly because I can’t sit still long enough to try the things you suggest (yoga, meditation etc) 😛

  4. Lubna says:

    Thank you for the insight: You don’t have to make all this happen yourself
    I attended, last evening, a fund raising cum awareness event for a nascent NGO. There is only just so much that I can give/volunteer and I could not do anything much here and came back hurting. But yes, hopefully others will step in.

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