In Week four Adele asks me to "Pretend that I am whole, no need to criticize or expect anything from myself, no need to compare or compete with others". Why? Because according to Adele, this is how we develop compassion, as we "dissolve our personal version of the world, and grow gentle eyes that are not afraid to see reality as it is". I guess we have to start with ourselves, and easing up on the shit self-talk and constant comparison to others is a good place to start.
I can't really say I put much intention into this week's challenge. I don't think I struggle more than anyone else does with self-criticism or comparison, and when I do criticize myself, it's usually justified. It's a fine balance between being overly critical of oneself and being too confident, not seeing areas that need improvement. But it served as a good reminder this week to listen to my self-talk. None of us would be as hard on someone else as we are on ourselves, especially the ways in which we talk to ourselves.
The whole concept of Ahimsa requires one to be kind and non-violent to oneself first, so I've tried (and mostly failed) to keep that in mind all month. Honestly, I probably read this last challenge as too vague to really apply to my life every day, but looking back, I definitely had moments where I either did, or could have enacted this intention:
1. I left a Barry's Bootcamp class early, skipping the 2nd run session because a) I'm not supposed to be doing sprints or hills on my still-recovering achilles, and b) I felt worn out and tired, didn't love the instructor, and just didn't 'feel' like forcing myself to complete it for the sake of it. Zero self-criticism or comparison; zero regret for leaving.
2. I was INCREDIBLY focused on getting stuff done on and re-launching my website, as well as studying for a particular certification. I guess by letting go of self-pressure to do other things (like cleaning toilets and baseboards), I was able to focus on what was really important for the week. But in truth, I did most of the household chores on the weekend before, so I had a little extra leeway with time. So whatever.
This challenge is an everyday one for me, though I see it more in terms of ego and unnecessary pressure I impose on myself over things that aren't actually important, which I often allow to get in the way of what IS important, making me shit on myself at the end of the day for not being productive. So maybe I'll get better at this now that I'm more conscious of it.
Reflections: Did I commit less violence against myself and others this month?
Maybe. Probably not. But I'm definitely more aware of tiny transgressions that I may be unconsciously perpetrating with my thoughts and actions. At the beginning of the month I pondered some intentions and concrete tasks that I would keep in mind throughout the month, which included:
--Post on Insta 1x/week? (week one homework: something you don't normally do).
I hate social media and need external pushes to use it. Overall, I failed. But the intention was there!!
--Reach out to at least one distant person per week (or more); make a concerted effort to lift up people I encounter (opposite of violence)
I totally nailed this one, and continue to re-connect with people in my life.
--Watch myself in giving advice or personal input on other people's lives.
Although I can't claim much success on this one, I hope that continuing to practice it will make me both more aware of doing it so that I can ultimately do less of it.
--Vegetarian OMD (one meal a day)? or one full day/week, or one week?
I did leave protein/animal products off my lunch salad several times a week and ate a few extra vegetarian meals.
--Throughout the month I was mindful to do things or not do things to avoid hurting people's feelings or making them feel bad.
-- I was much more mindful of giving genuine compliments to people about things that matter, telling them what I admire about them and what I'm proud of them for and what impresses me about what they do or how they are. This makes me feel great and frees up some mental space somehow. It absolutely helps to counteract any acts or thoughts of violence/negativity that I've put out in the world in the past or that swirl around now. It keeps both myself and the recipient feeling better, and lighter. I'll continue to be upfront with my admiration of others, as well as continue to reach out and connect with long-lost or lapsed relationships. And I'll continue to work on those relationships that are right in front of me, especially the ones I struggle with the most, including my sister.
In conclusion, I feel like I've barely scratched the surface of exploring and living my life by the guidelines of Ahimsa; I could spend the rest of my life working at it and still not be very far along, but I'm pretty sure that's the point.
I don't necessarily feel like I'm a nicer, less violent person, but I do feel I'm more aware of the boundless opportunities to choose the path of less harm and am dedicated to that practice going forward.