Clearing oneself of negativity requires the same dedication as shedding those extra pounds…take these exercises to heart, and feel yours begin to burst with compassion…
This post comes to you from our friend, healer and soon-to-be-momma, Nina Endrst.
Some days it’s hard to look in the mirror and really face up to what we see. We’re human, which inevitably means we’ll say and do things we’re not proud of. We are flawed, and that’s OK. This work of being a mindful human requires us to meet our edge and keep going. So much of life we cannot control, which is beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. I’ve found my practice is a balance of letting go and focusing on what I can control; the quality and tone of my thoughts, words and actions. I lead mostly with love but I do find myself stuck in judgment at times and this is my work — pulling myself up and out of a toxic place and standing firm in love and compassion. I hope these exercises help you to release judgment and bring us closer to each other.
Be willing to be a student, forever!
I can only speak for myself but, when I peel away the layers, I find that the judgment I feel toward others stems primarily from fear. Fear that I may not measure up in some way, or that the “other” is smarter, faster, stronger, sweeter, whatever! Um, who cares? Everyone is here to do their own thing their own way – so let’s try and learn from each other.
Practice: Start with respect. Next time you feel a pang of insecurity or feel intimidated or by someone – try getting to know them, ask a few questions. Everyone is a teacher on our path and it’s up to us to pay attention and seize these opportunities. Try your best to quiet that little voice telling you to tear them down and let yourself be taught. I find it so rewarding to learn from those who I respect and admire.
Yes, we are different but we are all the same.
Leading international retreats has allowed me to meet people from around the world — all with unique and beautiful stories and often traumatic wounds that run deep. Everyone is different yet the same because at our cores we are love. Making a snap judgment about someone we think is “different” without getting even a glimpse into who that person is or what he/she has endured is detrimental to our overall wellbeing.
Practice #1: Next time you are frustrated by a stranger, take a deep breath and say to yourself internally, “I am them, they are me.” Watch the aggravation dissipate.
Practice #2: Try striking up a conversation with someone who on the surface seems completely different from you. Or perhaps someone you’ve labeled this or that but never actually taken the time to get to know. Open your heart and mind and connect.
Compassion starts with you.
It’s impossible to love someone if you don’t love yourself. This I know to be true. So, let’s start there. How do you show yourself love, what do you do to take care of you? How do you speak to yourself when nobody is listening? How much time and energy do you spend judging yourself? Most of us are doing the best we can and that’s more than enough.
Practice: Write down all the nasty things you say to yourself and sit with it. Then burn the list. Next, commit to being nice to yourself. Start with a personal growth plan – What are you doing to take care of yourself currently? What makes you feel good, energized and close to your highest self? How can you invite more of that into your life?
When in doubt, compassion is always the answer.
I’ve been working a lot with the idea that self love is not selfish. It’s so important to take the time to be still and listen. To treat our mind, body and spirit with love and deep respect.
Oftentimes, I find peace comes when I invite the elements into my practice. I hope these three postures will help ground and stabilize you, allowing for a clearer and lighter walk down your path.
Start out lying flat on your back with the souls of your feet on the earth. Take a moment to arrive and take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. On your next inhale, gently lift your hip points to the sky and wave your hands over your head. Draw your heart toward your chin and keep a soft gaze toward the sky. As you exhale, gently wave your spine down flat on the mat and rest. Repeat 5 times.
Hug your knees in toward your heart and take a moment to shift your weight side to side, breathing into the lower back. On your next exhale, let your knees drop over to the right, bend into the left elbow and find a soft gaze over to the left. (Pause for 10 deep and mindful breaths before switching sides.)
Lying flat on the earth, bend into your knees and shine the souls of your feet to the sky. Reach your arms on the insides of your legs and take hold of the outer edges of your feet. Try to keep your throat soft and your sacrum rooted. Stay here, perfectly still or gently rock side to side for 10- 15 breaths.
Enjoy the feeling of the earth beneath you, the support and solidity. Rest.
+ Head to the Free People blog for full post. - xo N
I’m pretty fucking scared right now. I’ve never written about what I’m about to share, let alone shared these experiences with the world. It takes courage to be vulnerable and stand where we truly are, exposed. But it’s time to tell the Truth.
And the Truth is, I’m healing. Aren’t we all?
When I was nine years old, I was sexually abused by my babysitter’s son. I felt broken. Deeply ashamed and frightened. And for a long time, like many others, I remained silent, in fear. It took months for me muster the courage to even tell my parents—who were in the middle of a messy divorce at the time. Then I saw a Nick News segment on sexual abuse. Shit! What happened was really fucking bad, I thought.
And I felt even more guilty, the lump in my throat growing. I wanted to run as far and fast as humanly possible, but I was paralyzed. After what seemed like hours, I walked to my room, locked the door, and cried until I had nothing left. I was struggling with so many questions intertwined with intense emotions. Why did he do this to me? Why do they do this to us? I realized I had to talk.
I don’t remember much after that day, but I remember his parents called me a liar. After that, I just wanted stop talking about it, to forget it and go outside and play and try to reclaim everything I felt had been taken from me. So we back-tracked. Charges were never brought against him and I was once again, silent.
It took years to realize that this was not only the root of the profound anger and anxiety I have experienced in my adult life, but also would also prove to be the root of my subsequently developing Crohn’s disease. I can see now how my body and soul went into survival mode—how all the anger, sadness, and confusion went straight to my belly and rotted there, for years.
But in the beginning, I was a resilient kid and simply went on living my life. I had loving parents and an incredibly special group of friends (most of whom are still in my life) but deep down I remained a little girl, suffering in silence. I presented myself as tough and a little rough around the edges, when in fact I was incredibly sensitive and lost. When I got dressed in the morning, it was as if I put on an extra layer—a suit of armor to “protect myself.”
By 13, my hormones spun this carefully constructed regime out of control. My temper was explosive, and I made it my business to give my parents hell, regularly. It had all become too much to handle. One night, I took handfuls of pills and hoped that would be that. Thank god, it wasn’t. But the truth was, my soul knew I needed help and was screaming for it.
At 19 I had my first panic attack, on a plane. Everything, I’d spent my teenage years avoiding came rushing to the surface. My heart was racing, breath stuck in my chest, my belly as hard as a rock. Anybody who struggles with anxiety will know this feeling all too well.
Only, from the outside, my life looked pretty damn great by this point. I was attending college, I had amazing friends, and managed to maintain almost straight A’s alongside a busy social life. I was fucking happy! So where the hell was this coming from?
The Truth is, I had been avoiding my pain for so long, I didn’t even recognize that I had been living a lie.
At 21, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s (a chronic intestinal disease). I believe this was a direct result of the emotional and physical stress compacting in my stomach over the previous decade. I had tried to survive it. I had made it my mission to ignore the pain—to suppress it, push it down, deep into my belly. But here it had seeped into my cells, my tissues, my spirit.
No one knew the Truth about what had happened to me. My dearest friends only knew bits and pieces. I’m not sure I even knew the whole story, back then. Sometimes we have to make choices, and I had chosen over and over again not to acknowledge the shadows, leaving a patchwork of half-truths.
At 29 (my Saturn return) everything changed. I had a flare-up and became very ill, ultimately meaning I had to take medical leave from my job in fashion. I found myself facing some harsh realities that I couldn’t ignore any longer.
At this point, I’d been practicing yoga on and off for years, but it was in this moment that I started to live my yoga. To begin healing my body and spirit, by fully living my Truth. I left my job, signed up for yoga teacher training and took a huge leap of faith—inviting my heart to crack wide open.
The Truth is I gave myself ample time and space to be alone during that year. To cry uncontrollably. To talk, to listen, and to forgive. This is because, to me, yoga is and always will be so much more than back-bending and headstands. It is about deep, honest listening and truth-telling.
Through my practice, I learned that the way to the healing light is found when we sit quietly in darkness.
At age 31, I wake up every single day, grateful for my mind, body and spirit. The smile on my face is not permanent but it certainly is genuine. My mental and physical health are better than ever, as are my relationships with everyone—from my loved ones, to strangers I encounter on the street.
My story is that our stories do not define us. But I do believe everything we experience on our path—bright and shiny or painful as hell—is to lead us to where we are meant to be.
The Truth may not be easy to say, or to hear, but my god is it the only way to heal.
I’ve put so much work into my home the past few years
It feels like I’ve moved to an entirely different house
It’s the same structure though
I just stopped neglecting it
For years I tried ignore the damage
But I had to do something
It was falling apart
I started with the inside and then moved to the garden
I’m really happy with it
It looks beautiful and feels safe and warm
I don’t expect it to ever be finished
There will always be work to do
Before the renovations my house was much darker
When it was stormy I would lose power so easily
Sometimes the power would be out for days
I used to sit in the dark a lot
Now I try to keep the door and windows open
It seems to help
It's much brighter here now
My power still goes out from time to time
Especially when it's stormy
So I have at least one candle burning at all times
That way I can see in the dark
I walked by your house today
It was darker than usual
The door was closed and the blinds were drawn
I couldn’t see inside
Did your power go out?
Was there a storm?
When you get this let me know
I am your neighbor so please don’t hesitate to reach out
Really, I am happy to help
If it did go out, please don't worry
It will come back
And if you don't have enough candles to light the way we can build a fire together
That should do the trick