Softness is the new strength.

So, about the words “You’re strong.” I don’t like them.
 
I’m going through a big personal transition. I’m super blessed to have supportive friends and the resources I need. Some friends have offered hugs, others a long walk, others just the space for me to process. And, some well-meaning friends have used the word “strong” in one of many iterations: “You’re strong.” “Stay strong.” “You’re one of the strongest people I know.” You get the idea.
Curious about the word “strong,” I looked up the definition and found 30 on dictionary.com. Each one includes some type of force. That just so doesn’t fit for me. I’d like to add these (at the top of the list, please):
1) Defying cultural norms by asking for help.
2) Allowing space for feelings, even the most vulnerable ones, without personal judgment.
3) Crying your eyes out and not caring who sees you.
Nothing forceful or tough. Nothing that’s going to further stress me out when I’m already stressed. My yoga practice helps me get there. Maybe some of the ideas below will help you, too. If you have others, I’d love to hear them.
1) Put your body in a shape of comfort and surrender. Balasana, Child’s Pose, can be lovely for this. If time is a concern, set a timer. Even 5 minutes a day can feel beautiful. I usually stay for 15 minutes or so. If your body doesn’t easily settle into the pose, use blankets, pillows or other props to help support you. Don’t fight gravity. Give yourself a break. My beautiful friend, Amber Karnes, shows options for Balasana on her Body Positive Yoga website.
2) Learn to breathe differently. Yoga breathing is lovely to calm the nervous system, clear the mind, and give us a break. The Lung Institute provides instructions on three of my favorite yoga breath techniques – conscious breathing, alternate nostril breathing and pursed lips breathing. My favorite is alternate nostril (In Sanskrit it’s Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.) Oh – keep a tissue handy. Sometimes our bodies will release things via the nasal passages, if you get my drift.
3) Create a Dinacharya practice. Dinacharya is a daily ritual which is helpful all the time but especially when you’re living with stress, anxiety or depression. Our bodies and minds love routine. Simple things you can do – go to sleep and wake up close to the same time each day. Do something soothing before you go to bed – slowly massaging your feet with oil (I like sesame oil) is relaxing and meditative. Sit for a few quiet moments in the morning. My Dinacharya practice includes listening to my favorite song, Living In The Moment, by Jason Mraz. It’s not traditional but it’s part of my routine and I love it. For ideas closer to the roots of yoga tradition, read this blog post on SpeakingTree.In.
Only you can define what your strength will look like. If you’re not ready to go there, please give yourself time to honor that. But don’t stay there. A sense of peace and calm is your birthright. Claim it.