3 Ways Towards a More Mindful and Compassionate You

I can still hear the voices of my older relatives and my elementary school teachers telling me “be disciplined”, “keep at it”, to give time and energy towards what we want. As a young, impressionable child, I believed all those things because well, they made sense. They worked. And honestly, I felt like it’s the only way to flourish.

I didn’t grow up considering any other path. I pushed and hustled my way through my goals, reminding myself of the rewards I’ll reap from imbibing discipline deep into my veins — and it has led me to good things: a degree from a good university, a stable job, promotions year after year, and so on. I achieved a lot of what society would consider as success.

Allowing my life to be led by discipline, it urged me towards a path of (perceived) stability and (societally approved) security, alright, but… There came a time when I felt like something was missing, that however it is I’m living is no longer enough. I started being restless as I looked for something else, something that did not need to be forced or pushed… Something that came naturally for me. This was when I started my love affair with the concept of devotion.

Here are the top three ways I injected self-devotion into my life:

1. I consciously live from the heart

As opposed to what others think, living from your heart doesn’t mean being flaky, or unreliable, or emotional 24/7. It’s about listening to what your emotions, your body and your soul has to say… And accepting what needs to come up. Without having to rationalise and intellectualise everything.

This means living life, creating, and engaging with others in a way that’s from being centered in your body. It’s about allowing the different emotions and sensations to simply course through you until it has been recognised (and it dissipates).

And from this grounded place where every part of your being is acknowledged, you’ll feel a surge of compassion constantly arise from deep within you. You’ll be more radiant and naturally have more patience and deeper understanding for people.

Questions to activate this in the moment:

  • How can I be more compassionate?
  • What is triggering this course of action?
  • Can I sit with this emotion and see what comes up?

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama

2. I redefined concepts to align to heart-centered living

As I consciously live from my heart, I notice how my mind’s coming up with ironclad reasons for why I’m not living a “proper” life. At first, I thought it was simply because I wasn’t used to listening to my body for what I truly desire to have and do in the moment. But as time passes by, I realise that there are truly a lot of things I’ve learned that are outdated for where I am in my journey.

For one thing, I have a different definition of what success is. I used to think that success is a checklist and everyone has the same items to check off. Now, I see success as whatever I define it to be. I don’t even use the word as much anymore. What I prefer to measure is my level of presence in everything I do rather than chase an ideal that I know isn’t for me.

Another thing is that I have grown to make decisions based on expansion and potentiality. Instead of waiting for things to happen before moving forward, I tap into my innate tendency to play and imagine. I ask myself, “What option makes me feel the most expansive?” To be honest, it was a hit and miss when I first started doing this. But the more I treated life as an experiment, it became easier for me to connect to what feels most true.

Questions to activate this in the moment:

  • What voices tell me I can’t live life from the heart?
  • Am I open to new paths and ideas to experiment with?
  • How can you add more play in your life?

3. I took care of my body like I never did before

I found that a lot of my emotional turmoil and reactive states stemmed from not feeling good with my physical body — may it be because of my (recently ended) decade-long battle with eczema, my 20-lb weight gain months before my wedding or my too acidic blood chemistry. It was quite some time before I fully realised and accepted this as true for me. But once I did, it was always an onwards and upwards progress from then on. Gradual but forward.

Again, I treated things as experiments, detaching myself from the result and just feeling into how certain foods or exercise modalities make me feel. If it makes me feel alive, then I do it a second time. If it doesn’t and it’s a strong no for me, I completely cast it off from my list. I do that with options I have on the daily — on what to eat for dinner, what kind of exercise video to play for the day, how to best ground myself when I get restless and emotional. It goes on and on, and I’ve grown to love the process, even before I got the results.

Questions to activate this in the moment:

  • How does my body feel right now?
  • When was the last time I felt alive?
  • Can I add more activities like that in my daily routine?

“Your body isn’t a temple, it’s a home you’ll live in forever. Take care of it.” – Colin Wright

The steps above are the ones that I keep going back to and have helped me reach a level of purpose that I could have never imagined for myself. Self-devotion is an evolutionary practice. It’s what humanity is craving to have in its core. It’s an act of refusal to be shackled by societal rules yet again, especially after millenia of being provided with strict blueprints on how to live life. Self-devotion is you coming back to you. Are you ready to receive yourself in this way?

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