Separate Together Retreat

Self Care Vs Self Improvement

Today I would like to share with you these words from Bob Sharples (an Australian psychologist and meditation teacher). He writes about ‘meditation’ but you could substitute this for ‘yoga’, ‘relaxation’ or even just ‘practice’.
Don’t meditate to fix yourself,
to heal yourself,
to improve yourself,
to redeem yourself.

Rather, do it as an act of love,
of deep warm friendship to yourself.

In this way there is no longer any need
for the subtle aggression of self-improvement,
for the endless guilt of not doing enough.

– Bob Sharples
As we each renegotiate our relationships to our commitments, our communities and to the world at large, it seems an ideal time to consider what the yoga tradition has to say about taking care of ourselves and others.

So, I am going to be writing about Yama and Niyama over the next few weeks, which are some ideas about morality found in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

The five Yama offer guidance on how to take care of others – non-violence, telling the truth, not stealing, sexual restraint, not grasping.

The five Niyama offer guidance on how to take care of our selves – cleanliness, contentment, discipline, self-study, surrender.

Sometimes referred to as the “ten commandments” of yoga they can come across a bit aspirational. Let’s remember however that we talk about “yoga practice”, not “yoga perfection” and Yama and Niyama are designed to be practiced. 

Bob’s quote is an excellent reminder that we don’t do these practices to become better or superior, but as a way of finding more ease and more peace – an expression of ‘deep warm friendship’ to ourselves.

Whatever your practice is, may it give you a warm hug today!

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