21 Stories That Connects Us
Scripture ~ Jesus said to the temple lawyer, “What is written in the law? What do you read there?” The lawyer answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” And Jesus said to him, “You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10: 26-28
Spiritual Focus ~ “I have found in my research that the biggest reason people aren’t more self-compassionate is that they are afraid they’ll become self-indulgent. They believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.” Dr. Kristin Neff, pioneer in the field of self-compassion research and co-founder of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion
Breath Prayer ~ Inhale -Love, Exhale – Live
Story ~ A first person account from Lisa Ender, business manager for Yogadevotion. “As I changed my grandson’s diaper, I asked, “Where is your belly button? Do you have a belly button? Little fingers searched a toddler belly until the navel was found! After I confirmed its existence and beauty, I assured him that I had one too. He looked skeptical, so, of course, I showed him. His eyes were wide with amazement! Connection! Gramma has a belly button too! Ever since that day, soon after I arrive, he wants to see it. He tugs at my shirt, he grins with all those baby teeth and eyes wide in amazement, and we have connection.”
At first glance one might wonder what navel gazing and compassion have in common, but we don’t have to look far to see the connection in the etymology of the word compassion. In the Greek translation, compassion means to be moved so deeply you feel it in your gut. The Greeks believed that the gut was the seat of love. Our scripture today points to love, a deep compassionate love that goes beyond sentimentality. We often hear this command as “Love God, then neighbor as yourself.” However, one wonders if it would be more helpful if the word order were reversed. What if to love your neighbor meant you must first practice loving yourself and being compassionate with yourself so that you know how to love and be compassionate with your neighbor? After all, isn’t loving your neighbor loving God?
Loving ourselves is hard work sometimes. It can be a big ask, perhaps an arduous task, to push aside navel gazing that is self-indulgent and cut through layers of self-criticism. But when we do the hard work with compassion, we feel in our gut a connection to a greater love. Navel gazing in western yoga has been fairly criticized, especially when it focuses on self-indulgence. But if we consider the desire to look inward, to find that connection with an intention to love and be compassionate to ourselves, compassionate self-love reveals a connectedness to a greater love. This love connects us to Life and to each other. After all, we all have a navel that once connected us–quite literally– to life.