Indulgence or Self-Kindness?

I just read a post on 40 Simple Ways to Practice Self-Kindness over on the kindness blog and it reminded me of how simple, yet important, it is to practice self-kindness. And how easy it is for me to forget or fall out of practice.

When things are hectic, when there are a lot of demands on my time or energy, those are the times that acts of self-kindness are especially critical and necessary. Those times when it feels super indulgent to take the time to breath and meditate?  Those are exactly the times when I absolutely benefit from slowing down and taking a minute (or five or ten) to breathe.

I am amazed at how easily I can slide into thinking that self-care and self-kindness are indulgent. For example, one self-kindness I often think of as an indulgence is sleep. I know I need a lot of sleep. I am someone who needs at least eight hours of sleep a night. When I was younger, I didn’t think much about pulling all-nighters or functioning on just a few hours of sleep a night for long stretches of time. I really can’t say with much objectivity how functional I really was back then. Basically I was powered by a lot caffeine and those years are now a bit of a blur.

Over the years I’ve come to learn that I am a much happier, healthier and more balanced person when I get my seven or eight hours a night consistently. I know that. I have experienced its impact on my mind and body. I have no doubt of its necessity. And still I think it’s indulgent when I get those eight hours! So I like that the post framed getting enough sleep as an act of self-kindness.

Have you noticed any thought patterns in which acts of self-kindness are framed as indulgences?  If so, what do you do to re-frame?

40 Simple Ways to Practice Kindness

With all the intense emotions, busyness and disruptions to our normal schedules, the holidays are a time when we are both more aware of the love and gratitude we have for our lives AND a time when all the demands on our time and energy can leave us crankier and more self-involved than usual. Which is why I find this post so timely. I find practicing simple acts of kindness like the ones of this list inevitably bring me more joy and immediately brings me back to the present moment. No matter what is going on in my day, taking a moment to smile genuinely at a stranger or to really listen to a friend reminds me of our connection to each other as human beings and puts the material demands of life into perspective.

Kindness Blog

kindness image - figure spreading hearts

40 Simple Ways to Practice Kindness

by Mike O’Connor

  1. Smiles are irresistible. Don’t hesitate to smile warmly at friends, family, colleagues and even…strangers.
  2. Write hand-written thank-you notes. The notes don’t need to be an essay and people love to receive them. It’s the personal touch.
  3. If you use public transport, it’s busy and there are no free seats, be the first to stand-up and let a weary traveller, pregnant woman or elderly person take rest.
  4. Pay it forward – When you are in a coffee shop or café , maybe you could buy a coffee or cake in advance for the next customer that comes in. How tasty! Imagine what a sweet surprise that person will get when they discover that a kind stranger has paid it forward for them.
  5. When you see a homeless person, think about how you might be able to help them in some way…

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3 Easy Tips for a Saner Holiday Season

The holiday hype is in full swing and, as usual, I’m feeling pretty mixed about it.  To help me navigate the next six weeks with some modicum of sanity, I will be relying on these three simple things to anchor me:

  • meditation
  • protein
  • fiber

I imagine that, for the majority of the population, the holidays probably bring up a range of emotions.  There are things to celebrate and be grateful for, there are things (or situations) we tolerate (because it’s the holidays) and there are things we choose to not deal with and try to forget.  All of which means it’s a little trickier than usual to stay balanced, calm and grounded.  In other words, sane.  Add to that factors like traveling, extra traffic, heightened emotions and expectations and constant changes to schedules and it’s no wonder that we need plans and strategies to get through this “most wonderful time” of the year.  I find the combination of meditation, protein and fiber especially useful during the holiday season because they don’t require specialized equipment (no extra trips to the store), can be done anywhere (no excuses), take very little time and are pretty easy to remember.

Meditation: A breathing meditation, a sitting meditation, a moving meditation, a guided meditation – it doesn’t really matter what kind of meditation you do.  What matters is setting aside the time to do it every day.  The crazier the days are, the more necessary it is to carve out that time for yourself.  Even if it’s just three minutes of sitting still with your eyes closed and doing nothing more than listening to your breath.  If you’re more ambitious, use the time to connect with gratitude and love.  You can choose to take those minutes to get real with your emotions, to get to the core of what matters and/or just bask in the flow of love, joy and gratitude. Those three (or thirty) minutes are well worth it.

Protein: More often than not, hunger shows up as crankiness or spaciness.  Either way, it’s unpleasant to be around and even possibly dangerous.  I find that protein helps me feel fuller longer so it’s easier to resist temptation.  Plus, I make better choices when my stomach’s not rumbling.  I usually have a snack bag of almonds stashed in my bag (very helpful when I haven’t eaten since lunch and I’m stuck in late afternoon traffic).

Fiber: The holidays often involve richer foods, more hectic schedules and traveling so it’s best to up the fiber intake.  The fiber will help keep the extra weight off and help ensure proper elimination.  Because it’s important to let go of things that no longer serve us, whether that’s in the physical body or the emotional body.  The fiber helps the physical body while the meditation helps the emotional body process and release.

What tips, plans and strategies do you have for the holidays?


9 Simple Holiday Safety Tips

I was going to write another post about the importance of practicing gratitude – it seemed timely given that Thanksgiving is next week – and then I thought better of it. Thanksgiving is one time of year when we get reminders to be grateful from pretty much every media outlet so I decided to share some holiday safety tips instead.

As important as it is to recognize and express how grateful we are for what we have, it is also important to remember to be mindful and practical as to how to keep our homes safe. This is especially true during the holiday season, when we may be distracted by our own thoughts, obligations and busy schedules. Here are some simple tips I got from the Los Angeles Police Department website:

– Be extra cautious about locking doors and windows when you leave the house, even for a few minutes.

– When leaving home for an extended time, have a neighbor or family member watch your house and pick up your newspapers and mail.

– Indoor and outdoor lights should be on an automatic timer.

– Leave a radio or television on so the house looks and sounds occupied.

– Large displays of holiday gifts should not be visible through the windows and doors of your home.

– When setting up a Christmas tree or other holiday display, make sure doors and passageways are clear inside your home.

– Be sure your Christmas tree is mounted on a sturdy base so children, elderly persons or family pets cannot pull it over on themselves.

– If you use lights on your Christmas tree ensure the wiring is not damaged or frayed. Frayed or damaged wiring can cause a fire.- Place your Christmas tree in water or wet sand to keep it green.
Never place wrapping paper in your fireplace.