Be Gentle With Yourself

May 5, 2017 • Body Image, Eating Disorder, Health, Love, Recovery, Self Care, Yoga • Views: 1546


Preface: This was harder to write than I thought it was going to be. The moments of empowerment, while full of life and more frequent than before, ebb and flow. Some days are most positive than others. Yet, here I am, persisting.


When I was in high school, a teenager with too many thoughts in my head, feeling set away from the mainstream, not sure of myself, not trusting others or myself, my mom bought me a poster of Desiderata and hung it in my room. I think she thought it would be of comfort to me. Maybe provide some guidance. And it is, it does – now. I don’t think I understood it then.

I move at 100 miles per hour. Pretty much always. Until I can’t. I’m the best at setting unrealistic expectations for myself and pushing myself to the limits. This was part of the impetus for leaving big city life. And so, last year I moved – a new city, new friends, new routine. And I hung Desiderata over my desk.

For over a year before that, I’d thrown myself into working out. Two to three hours a day, almost every day, but still feeling unfulfilled. I had no focus. I stressed myself out. Enough was never enough. So, when I moved, I knew it was time for a change and I went to find myself.

When I stepped into CorePower Yoga I was unsure of me. Even with more than a year of my own practice, I wasn’t comfortable with being there. I didn’t feel flexible. I wasn’t content in my skin every day. I kept my head down, going and coming home. There and back.

You know those moments that speak to you? Like, really get inside you, inside your heart, inside you mind, under your skin? A few weeks into my practice at my new studio, one of my instructors started class with a poem. Lines from Desiderata.

Be gentle with yourself, she read.

And I recited along with her in a whisper:

You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

It’s not always easy this life thing. I’ve struggled on and off again over the years with how I look. Who I am. Where I’m going. As I get older, my body changes. I take on a new sport, my body changes. These changes are scary. But, you know what? That’s okay. These changes, they’re not imperfections. It’s dedication. It’s life experience. I may not always like them, but they help tell my story. And they make me think – what does it mean to like – to love – the way I look?

Alissa at practice.

I look in the mirror and I think about what I looked like before I started yoga.

I look in the mirror and I think about myself 5 years ago, 10 years ago, when I was a child.

I look in the mirror and I think about what I looked like before I was food positive.

I look in the mirror and I think about what I looked like before I let myself know happiness.

I look in the mirror and I think about what I looked like when I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.

And do you know what I see today? Today, I see someone who strives intentionally for happiness. I see someone who find stillness in her heart. I see someone who has the ability to be calm, to not take flight in every situation. For better or for worse, I see my whole self.

I look better because I feel better – not the other way around.

Today, I can look in the mirror and smile.

So, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe. And, no doubt, the universe is unfolding as it should.

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