a blog by Ellen Davies

The power of gentleness

The power of gentleness

If you want to make changes, you have to be gentle with yourself. As we lean into this new year, 2018, keep this in mind. If you’ve resolved to learn how to meditate, or take up a yoga practice, gentleness is the way to go about it. Likewise, if you have difficult situations (or people) a little gentleness goes a long way. 


The power of gentleness


Here is one way I learned the power of gentleness.


When I first learned to meditate, most of the time my mind jumped around from one thing to the next–the proverbial monkey mind. I knew that I was supposed to bring my mind back, gently. Sometimes I could do this. I imagined my mind as a small child, and I gently took it by the hand and led it back to the present moment. Other times I got frustrated, even angry, with myself. Some days mediation felt completely pointless! All I seemed to be doing was fidgeting for 20 minutes or so, yanking my mind back from its wanderings over and over.


But I kept trying. And I learned that the more gently I brought myself back, the more my mind cooperated. Frustration and anger led to me giving up on meditation early (sometimes as short as after 5 minutes!) but gentleness prevailed.


Gentleness in asana practice


I teach a lot of beginners, and often I see their frustration. I know they feel embarrassed or inadequate when other long-time yogis move effortlessly into poses like extended angle, and the newbie struggles. I see newbies pushing into poses, or be so self-conscious that they keep talking and making excuses. “Wow, I can’t do this like she can!”


My instinct is to put my hands on the newbie’s shoulders, and say, “Relax. Be gentle with yourself.” Think about flowers in the spring—they grow and blossom almost imperceptibly. The flowers don’t rush. The buds don’t seem to change much from one day to the next. Then suddenly a flower blooms, gently and beautifully. Bring those concepts into your asana practice.


This are just two examples of how gentleness can help bring changes. It can also help with asana practice, or with a difficult situation, or with difficult people.


For 2018, in what ways can you incorporate gentleness?

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