January 16, 2020

“Be like Water”: How to Cultivate Tenderness toward Ourselves.

Tenderness is like prayer.

It is a humble, intimate act as we settle into our vulnerabilities, as we gather all parts of us that were meant to be whole.

Tenderness is a blessing. It is the source of water poured into the soil of our soul, into which we’ll nestle bathed and moist like newborn baby skin.

Tenderness is to love. We open our heart truly and fully to hold and be held, to receive and be received. Tenderness is healing, because to heal is to be strong enough to remain tender. Our tenderness is our lifeline.

Treating ourselves with compassion allows us to engage more deeply with ourselves and come into our wholeness. Slow down and be tender with your heart. As we settle into our vulnerabilities, we come to terms with our innermost world of feelings, to flow like water unresistingly filling forgotten dry parts inside of us with forgiveness and compassion. In this nourishing way, we gain a much-needed appreciation, honoring our emotional needs, and come into a deeper relationship with our self.

Losing our tenderness is like losing our soul, and yet it is so easy to lose it when we fall prey to today’s evil eyes and negativity. And why should we even stay tender in a world so hard as crucifixion nails, in a world where toughness is rewarded and we are constantly cursed by malicious gossip, criticism, verbal cruelty, mistreat, and abuse? How can we cultivate our tenderness through such injustice? How can we bless our tender parts?

It is natural to be gentle when all is well, but how gentle are we to ourselves when we are hurt or faced with cruelty? When we are stripped to our skeleton by negativity and pain, it is so easy to lose our tenderness. And yet it is precisely in these times when we need it most.

Words carry powerful vibration and every day we choose the kind of change we want to make in someone’s life (including our own) with the words we decide to speak—kindness or harm, encouragement or criticism.

How do we talk to ourselves when we can’t meet our impossibly high goals? Do we treat ourselves with harshness, criticism, and judgment? How do we talk to ourselves when we’ve been rejected or failed in something? What words do we speak to ourselves in our most fragile, weak, and embarrassed moments? How hard is it to forgive?

What do we feel when we put our hands to our face?

Tenderness means feeling all of our feelings—anger, fear, sadness, hopelessness. We need to have compassion and gentleness toward ourselves no matter how we feel. In fact, the most powerful way to banish curses and evil eyes is by love and compassion, through forgiveness and refusal to accept such behaviors as our own.

It is okay to say, “I am afraid. I am worried. I am sad.” And there is much freedom in giving ourselves the permission to say, “I don’t know where I’m going.” In this fragile openness, we come into a whole new understanding, intelligence, and connection.

Whatever you feel, just remain with yourself, because it is precisely through these uncomfortable moments that we build a deeper relationship to self.

When we are faced with hardships and challenges, our body hardens and this also causes our heart chakra to close off. In fact, in many cultures, the evil eye is considered to be a “drying” condition. We are stripped off of our moisture, nourishment, love, and joy. It dries us up. It hardens us. And in many ways, we become like dry desert land in desperate need of a water well.

In our hardest moments, we need to be most gentle to ourselves. So when faced with drought—call in the waters. Cry, make tea, ask for help and support, bathe in saltwater, take a shower, wash your clothes and bedsheets, oil your skin, drink water, pour from the well of forgiveness and compassion, and hold yourself sensitively in your arms speaking softly, love to you. Through water, we explore our emotional depths, feel our feelings, and come back to our heart.

Fall, tears, fall, so that we flow again, so that we flow.

It may feel really uncomfortable to sit in our vulnerability and fragility. It may make us feel weak and helpless—but it is actually during our unconditional openness that we come into our wholeness and self-acceptance. Blocking that means blocking the connection to ourselves. As we learn self-tenderness, we come back to life and allow a deeper relationship to unfold within us.

“Be like water,” Taoists will tell you. Water is incredibly powerful even though it does not show its powers often. We must learn to flow inside without resistance so that we come into equilibrium and resolve ourselves into inner peace. Soft, emotive, compassionate, forgiving, and caring we must be toward ourselves—and be able to feel into our feelings without rationalizing them or judging them. It is not about thickening our outer skin—it is about nourishing and protecting our inner skin, the soil of our soul. We owe this to our heart; we owe this to ourselves.

Follow yourself back to your tender parts, like the inside of your forearm. Have you noticed how soft it is despite age and circumstance? Life changes us. Our bodies begin wearing burdens whether seen or unseen—whether ours or of others—and sometimes, we lose sight of the tiny, gentle things. Just above the fragile wrist is the place where we can trace ourselves back to the beginning—where we can remind ourselves of the tenderness that never changed; of what we forever hold in our hearts despite changes, despite age, despite hardships; of the way we hold our bared gentle parts, remembering ourselves into wholeness and holiness.

Our greatest adversary to a deeper connection with self is forgetfulness, forgetting our deeper truth, love, and potential. It is our tender places that remind us where our resilience is—how despite the hardships, we remained soft in these places and we can settle into the safety of this gentle knowing. And finding these moist, fertile places within the soil of our soul shows us where new seeds can grow.

In desert places, plants have adapted to grow sharp edges and hard, dry surfaces to survive, like cacti. We too adapt to our surroundings to “survive.” And yet it doesn’t mean that we are stripped of that which is inherently within us since birth. No matter how “dry” we become, water can always be found in the desert if we dig long enough beneath our feet.

Sometimes we may need to dig really, really deep to find that sacred well of life. It’s tough work to find something within that we have forgotten, but I assure you it’s there, just like the soft inside of your forearm. Even if we find just a drop, collect it one by one like raindrops—keep it and treasure it.

To bless our tenderness is to protect it and nourish it.

Our tenderness is meant to be shared only with those we love who are true to us and provide the supportive environment for its nourishment. We don’t need to close off to everyone. Wearing our armour of protection is absolutely needed but we should also know when and with whom to take it off—this is healthy.

Share your tenderness with long touches and deep lovemaking. Share it with laughter and tears. Share it with intentional conversations and whispers of sweet nothings in the ears. Share it with true intimacy. And share it all with an open heart.

When fights or conflicts happen, it is easy and instinctive to go into a hardening mode. It is effortless to be critical and judgmental toward ourselves when we think we’ve failed or have been rejected in some way. It is easy to want to take revenge when someone has harmed us and to wonder, “Why should we stay kind in this harsh world; what’s the point?” But we should remember that our own hearts need us to remain in our tenderness. This is not about others. Don’t curse yourself by falling into the negativity you’ve absorbed from elsewhere. And once you find your sacred well of waters, protect it, and share it only with those close to us.

Our tenderness is where our greatest strength and courage are. When we follow its thread of water, it leads us gently to our core where, despite hardships, we remained resilient and unbreakable. In a way, our tenderness is our hardiness because no thing and no one was capable of destroying that part of us nor taking it away.

This is our greatest power. This is our source of life.

And when we allow us to be tender with ourselves, we’ll also be more tender with one another. So call in the waters and follow yourself back to yourself; blessed are your tender places, this is where you truly are!


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