Hi and welcome to a new episode of The UNCUT The Feminine Podcast!
If you’re here for the first time, my name is Oana and I’m the founder of thefeminine.com, an online community dedicated to women all over the world. The Feminine is a place where we discuss vitality, healthy bodies, fulfilling emotional lives, passion, sensuality, relationships, and the importance of sisterhood, with the intention to map a comprehensive guide into anything that is important, and essential for living a fulfilled life as a woman.
For the past 14 years, I’ve been a transformational coach and during the last seven years, I’ve dedicated my entire work to empowering women all over the world.
Women need to trust their voice, follow their hearts and embrace their womanhood with no fear and no shame. In this community, we discuss monthly topics that are related to our femininity.
Today we have a very special edition because the holidays are coming and the end of the year is also coming. It’s a time of reflection for most of us. It’s also a time of bonding and connecting with the ones dear to us. That makes this an emotional period in our lives, more than usual.
We decided to tackle a very tender matter called COMPASSION and SELF-CARE.
Why would that be relevant for us as women during this time of the year – December?
I’m here with my partner, Ioana, and we’re going to go through some of the messages that women have sent to us. We also want to find out more about how they can develop compassion in their lives and also take on exploring more of this topic through the questions that Ioana is going to bring to the dialogue of the podcast.
Hi, Oana! Nice to see you again!
For those who didn’t have the occasion to read or watch our content on compassion, we have a very, very beautiful mantra. We call it a mantra. It seems that our listeners and readers start to respond to this mantra because it’s a very strong one. So I’m going to start with a question coming from Ruxandra, and she writes:
“I’m crying every single time I listen to this mantra. I am on the journey to love myself and to be gentle with myself, but still, I feel there is such a long way to go. How can I forgive myself for all that I or others say I did wrong?”
It’s a very powerful question. It’s a bit longer, she elaborates on this topic, but I think the question Ruxandra is asking emphasizes something we all have in mind.
We rationally know we are not guilty or that we have to forgive ourselves. But there’s a voice, that voice in our heads, that comes over and over again and tells us, every single time, that we have done something wrong.
Yes. I’m going to extend Ruxandra’s message a bit and elaborate on it because she also wrote:
“How can I make the process accelerate? Do I have to tell myself that I’m beautiful, hug myself, and give all the compassion I need coming from the Inner Self and not others? I start doing that in the morning after my meditation and my ritual, but during the day, I tend to forget it. And then that voice coming from my biological mother that I’m not good enough is coming back.
How can I give myself all the love that I need, apart from staying with my Inner Child and the Ideal Mother?”
I wanted to read her entire message because this is the immediate thing we think of when we think about compassion: loving myself and becoming more gentle with myself.
Yes, that is a way of expressing love for myself. But actually, compassion is much more than that. It’s the place where my heart fully opens to the experience I’m undergoing.
Most of the time, that experience is something we avoid because it’s either painful or uncomfortable. And how we can accelerate that process of love is actually accepting where we are and the struggle that we are experiencing in relation to that voice. Because that voice has always been present.
Everybody has it, one way or another – “I’m not good enough!”. Right?
What we do is pick up those voices in our childhood from our caretakers, from our parents. And most of them are negative voices and negative imprints. And the thing that we don’t see or try to avoid is how we feel when we hear that voice. But accessing that feeling is what’s going to open our hearts. And most of the time, our heart opens to emotions. It’s not a mental process. So compassion is the fragrance of our heart opening to any emotion, whether it’s a painful or uncomfortable emotion or an emotion of joy and love. It’s a natural phenomenon! You don’t have to do it. You don’t have to work through it. You just have to accept where you are and open yourself to that emotion, and then it will naturally come. You will become your best friend without knowing how to do that, even without reading a manual on best friend interaction, because it’s natural for us to be open to love. It’s the most human basic capacity we have, but we tend to block it because we avoid the fear of the pain or the fear of the emotion that’s trying to surface in that situation.
So, my input to Ruxandra would be to just give herself time, because only the mind wants to accelerate, give herself time and accept her situation, accept where she is, exactly the way she is!
Also, Ruxandra, while I’m accepting where I am when I open myself to those emotions that I actually experience and have been experiencing in relation to this voice, I’m not good enough!
Your words work like meditation!
I remember something you said related to compassion: that being aware is the basis for change.
But somehow I feel that Roxandra would be very happy if we came back to her with a short three-step guide on how to be more compassionate with yourself. It’s very nice, it’s very poetic, and it works. If you are always aware of being compassionate. But who can do that?
Based on what you’ve just said, I think we have to distinguish that compassion is not positive thinking or a positive approach, in general. That’s one thing!
Compassion is you becoming present to what’s actually happening underneath it all. The moment you bring presence and awareness to that experience, then you have access to freedom.
So, the three-step formula into freedom, into any emotional situation, is the moment your emotional self bubbles up and you feel an inert tension or a conflict or you experience pain in any way and you know you can feel it. Your mind can’t control the situation anymore, and that emotion is bubbling up and you feel like you’re overwhelmed at that moment. Just stop and take some time for yourself!
Exactly. At that moment!
And start breathing, giving yourself mental space from that emotional upheaval by just accepting that you’re going through an emotional upheaval right there, right at that moment, and breathing with your emotions, the moment they get intense, is what calms them down. And it’s giving your mind access to distance itself and observe whatever wants to boil out to the surface. And by just observing and breathing, the emotion can turn into a thought.
Then you’ll be able to actually understand and demystify.
What is the feeling you’re experiencing right then?
Maybe you’re feeling weak.
Maybe you’re feeling unprotected.
Maybe you’re feeling scared.
Maybe you’re feeling abandoned.
And the moment you understand how you actually feel, the natural gesture would be to hug yourself or to accept where you are or just bring kindness to yourself at that moment through either accepting it or embracing yourself or just making a small gesture of kindness towards yourself. This is very healing and it opens a heart.
It also brings compassion into the situation. It’s how you actually become your best friend!
I think another good and useful distinction for Ruxandra, is acknowledging the difference between being compassionate and sacrificing yourself. I feel many of us get stuck exactly at that moment that you describe, saying “I can’t be compassionate because I feel like I’m sacrificing myself”.
Why I’m asking this is because we had a very beautiful story about the legend of Guanyin. And if you read the story with the eyes of a usual reader, you can think that the girl sacrifices herself for everybody and for everything. What’s the small thing that makes the distinction between sacrifice and being compassionate?
In that story of Guanyin, she was giving kindness and compassion to everything, even if people were asking her to sacrifice her life; she would gladly do that. I just wanted to explain a bit for those who didn’t get a chance to read it, just to have an idea of the context. Well, it’s not a sacrifice, because the moment you accept your pain or whatever, then you are challenged, and you have freedom. That’s what people don’t understand. You are weak when you avoid whatever is actually going on when you avoid your emotions, when you avoid the pain or the separation, or the distance you experience in a situation.
The moment you accept it, you have power and you have freedom! It comes natural!
So, whenever you are asked to do something, you’re in a place of power and that doesn’t look like a sacrifice. It looks like a sacrifice for a person who is fully connected in the mind.
Moving forward to Emily’s question! She writes:
“Hi, I’ve been going round and round with the same problem. Becoming too good will make me stress out. Being a bad person will make me even worse. I think I will be stuck with the same problem, always questioning myself. What’s the solution?”
Well, if we look at compassion and the ability to feel ourselves and feel others, I think it’s understanding that the issue here is questioning yourself. Emily and I would work on that. I would start giving myself space to deal with my lack of confidence, regardless of what decision I make, because I can change my decision in every situation or I can finally rest with one and be at peace.
But to get to that place where I am confident and I can own my decision and I’m taking the risk, I first need to find a way to embrace the fact that I am confused and to be open to work with this.
My confusion and compassion are actually feeling your confusion, feeling your lack of confidence and accepting it again and allowing it to be and giving, for example, like you would be your best friend in this situation.
What advice would you give to that part of yourself which doesn’t have that confidence yet?
I would rather take some time, some practice of just talking to myself, being with myself, until I can experience this confusion again and again and again and breathing with it until it becomes familiar.
It’s not something that I’m afraid of. The moment confusion becomes familiar, it will melt. That’s the surprise of it because the moment we stay long enough with a particular attitude or with a particular emotion and we accept it, is when we fully learn it, we digest it, we understand it and that’s exactly when that emotion melts, it dissipates. So the cure for the lack of confidence and confusion would be to just embrace the lack of confidence and confusion and not make any decision until you’re in a place of clarity. Know that if you accept that lack of confidence and you breathe with it, and you stay with it with the intention of giving yourself permission and space to go through that confusion, then it will dissipate and it will all become clear.
Why is that?
Staying with yourself, accepting yourself, giving yourself permission, and being patient with yourself are all tools through which compassion works. And compassion can be a great healer!
At that particular moment, when you adjust to that emotion, you grow! You grow into your power in relation to that confusion! You’re not afraid of it anymore… it doesn’t scare you anymore. And the moment you gain power in relation to that, you also gain clarity.
So I don’t know if the decision is to be a good person or a bad person. I don’t know if good or bad is really true in any situation, but I trust Emily and her potential to know what to do in every situation. I am confident that she is willing to accept herself the way she is and to stay with her confusion long enough so that it transforms into clarity.
Can we say that compassion can be a very soft and feminine way? And can we consider it something… advanced… to take care of ourselves?
Yes, but it is a profound practice. It’s not pampering or being spoiled or going on a holiday or shopping therapy whenever you feel you have a bad day.
Compassion is really about this capacity of being ruthless with your pain and somehow opening to the truth and going under the fire of your own inner truth, no matter how painful it is, and experiencing that power and that freedom that comes out of it. So it can start as a gentle exercise or practice in your life, but it can go very deep through the whole process. I think it’s a very powerful process!
I’ve experienced tremendous healing in my life due to this practice and it wasn’t comfortable all the time.
What I actually want to point out is that compassion is not necessarily about a comfortable experience, but rather a healing experience. And what a healing experience brings is forgiveness, self-forgiveness.
It brings freedom and it brings the ability to leave the past behind.
So, whenever you face a situation that you want to end in your life – like the end of the year – you really want to leave it behind you and start a new resolution, compassion would be the practice.
And there’s a very simple meditation because I want to give people some very clear ways of practicing it. It’s a very simple meditation created by a Buddhist Monk, called Aticia.
This Monk traveled all his life with the intention and the mission to cure and heal all the suffering and illness of all humans, devoting his life to that.
Embracing the Buddhist philosophy, he was working as a disciple with Guanyin and with Green Tara, who were both amazing light beings of compassion and meditation. He took this challenge of compassion wherever he went, throughout his life. He traveled so much and exposed himself to so much physical and emotional and psychological or spiritual pain, that he ended up understanding that the problem we have in healing or forgiving or leaving the past behind is that we avoid pain.
He came up with this very simple practice. He said that everybody was avoiding pain. All spiritual practices are about infusing light into our bodies and releasing pain. He wanted to try something different.
Being an extreme person, he took a very extreme approach. Simply put, the practice consists of inhaling the pain and giving back light, as he was not afraid of pain.
He thought that pain can alchemize into freedom. It can alchemize into light.
So, the meditation is very simple. It’s a meditation of 15 minutes in total.
First, you sit with your back straight in a lotus position and you take up a situation in your life, whether it’s a relationship with yourself or a relationship with somebody else, where you are experiencing pain or discomfort or upheaval, and you breathe in that pain, and you breathe out compassion.
Just by experiencing, I’m taking in the pain in my heart and I’m breathing out compassion.
I’m taking in the pain. I’m breathing out compassion, and you do it for five minutes.
In the second phase, the next five minutes, you breathe in the pain of other people in your life that you know are in pain. And you breathe out with compassion. So you expand your awareness of other people’s pain, feeling their pain and allowing it to be in your heart, to open your heart to it. You’re not taking the pain. You’re just opening your heart to that pain, and you’re breathing out compassion!
In the last phase, the last five minutes, you are bringing in the pain of other people in the world who are going through the same situation. You are breathing out compassion.
This is a very expansive practice because you are going to tune in either way on a very clear level, emotional level, or just a subtle level to feeling the pain, feeling your pain, feeling other people’s pain, feeling even the pain of other people who are going through the same thing.
Most of us think that we are all alone, but actually, at the same moment, there are so many people out there in the world experiencing just exactly the same amount of pain that we are experiencing, or even more in the same situation. We all think it’s just us. But there are people who are doing the same things, at the same moment.
It’s a very beautiful practice because just breathing in that pain and breathing out compassion opens the heart, and it has a miracle potency to it, because you can actually, through this practice, just doing it for yourself with your intention to free yourself up, to become powerful in that experience, you can actually heal yourself and open yourself up beyond that situation, but also have the capacity to heal others.
I’ve experienced it in my life and I’ve done the practice in the context of an intimate relationship. That person didn’t even know I was doing the practice, and wasn’t even aware that I was going through that pain, because it didn’t feel safe enough to share my pain with him.
Right… Those relationships, they’re very intense, but you don’t feel safe enough. Most of us go through that. And I was praying and I was breathing in that pain, my pain, and then the pain of all the women who were going through the same situation, because I bet they were a lot…, and I was breathing out compassion. And at the end of my 21-day practice, that person came to me and said that he experienced tremendous healing in his life. It opened up a whole new level of intimacy in our relationship because we started talking about pain.
So yes, it’s a very powerful experience. We have the capacity, not only as women, to deal with pain. We have the capacity to transform pain into freedom and into peace of mind.
It’s in our hearts, but we need to open our hearts to it!
This is definitely a feminine value!
It is definitely a very strong way of taking care of yourself, but it is definitely the next level for everything. Resilience, power, think of whatever comes into your mind.
Your advice is extremely valuable for those celebrating Christmas these days because we all know Christmas can be a very happy season, but at the same time, it can be an awfully difficult season.
Seeing how much you’ve grown, spend three days and three nights with your parents and you’ll have a perfect X-ray of your own development!
It will definitely be the next level of showing maturity in encountering your difficult shadows during this time. But during this meditation!
That’s exactly why I wanted to share it with you.
Sometimes, holidays are about deep intimacy. And what comes along with deep intimacy in our families or in our relationships is sometimes what stops us from feeling intimacy. And that can be painful. But I think it’s also a good trigger for going deeper and not being afraid. And yes, it is the next level, but it is a power we have as women, and it’s safe to go there. You’ll find yourself powerful in ways that will impress you. They will give you strength, they will inspire you, and will make you feel more grounded in the new year that’s coming with all those miracles and resolutions you want to manifest.
So I totally back you up, sister, into going deeper and trusting your heart because it knows the way, during the Christmas dinner.
If I’m shattering to pieces, I will just go in the bathroom and breathe along with my mother-in-law. I can have this picture in my mind but I will try it and come back with a good story. I promise!
I think this was our podcast and I totally want to salute your effort and your willingness to look at your heart and at your life.
I think we all go through that moment of evaluation at the end of the year and I just want to empower you to be brave. It’s worth it!
Thank you, Oana!
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