Go gently into your day.
Before you jump out of bed
and brace yourself to meet the world again,
pause and feel your breath.
Gently allow your hands to instinctually offer comfort
to the places on your body that have
already started to fill with tension –
a gentle hand on the knot in your belly,
a soothing palm cupping your clenched jaw.
Acknowledge what is here – the pleasant and unpleasant –
with the kindness and patience of a wise grandmother
listening to her grandchildren
Whisper to all the parts within you, “I am with you.”
Go gently as you dress,
eat your breakfast and greet your dear ones.
Slow it all down.
Welcome a soft smile to your face.
Soften the muscles around your eyes.
Let the love within you
Pour warm light into
Go gently as you depart.
Linger just for a moment
to let your departing touch be gentle,
a sacred embrace to warm the hearts of those you hold
in this moment.
Go gently as you go about your day
so you pause before you pick up the usual worries
like a permanent backpack with heavy stones
that have made your shoulders ache
and fold in on your heart.
Go gently and offer your shoulders reprieve
with an expansive stretch and a gentle massage.
Go gently as everyone returns home,
greeting your dear ones with delight in your eyes.
Go gently into the demands of the evening –
from soccer practice to violin lessons –
slowing way down once again.
Turning off the phone and letting go
of the need to check email one more time.
And let yourself just be there,
Go gently as the day comes to an end.
Forgiving – yourself and each other.
Softening the harsh judgments.
Ending the day as you began –
Feeling the comfort and warmth of your hand
on your heart and belly,
feeling yourself being breathed,
feeling the vast ocean of gentleness and compassion
smooth any harsh edges and
invite you now to
Lisa McCrohan, MA, LCSW-C, SEP
Returning home from a five-day vacation in Florida, my husband reminded me that the kiddos had off on Monday. “Thank goodness!” I thought, “A day of transitioning slowly back into our life at home!”
I had tons of work to do. I’m leading a three-week spring retreat. I have clients to connect with. I have a presentation to finalize for Georgetown on Wednesday.
As I woke up Monday morning, the usual “Monday morning anxiety” flooded my body. As I felt the anxiety begin to take over, I recalled how one of the body-centered healers that I see for my own self-care signed off her email the other day:
“Go gently,” she said.
“Go gently,” I thought. These words breathe such permission for EASE.
Gentle with myself. Gentle with the kiddos.
I looked around at the suitcases to be unpacked. My usual way is “tackle it all at once” – getting everything put away the day we get back.
But today, it didn’t matter if I had control over the chaos. It didn’t mean I was a crappy mom, wife, or person if I wasn’t “on top of” the unpacking and the laundry. So I said to myself, “Go gently and slow down the unpacking.”
The cleaning we didn’t do before we left?! “Let it wait,” I thought. And my capacity to allow things to be messy and not spotless clean was expanding.
“I don’t have to do all three loads of laundry today,” I said to myself.
I promised myself that day that I would go gently.
We called a friend over. My daughter played. My son read. I took a nap on the couch with puppy and our son. Yes, an actual nap.
I got to some emails. I did some work.
“You don’t have to do it all right this minute. Go gently today,” I said to myself.
And then we went outside. For four hours we hung out in the woods. Four glorious hours of exploring the creek, making a hut, lying with puppy on the grass.
When the kiddos were in bed that night, I looked back at the day. It could have gone completely different. I could have pushed through all the work I had to do. I could have barked at the kiddos to get their stuff put away. I could have blamed brian..for something!
But I realized how this simple phrase carried me this day, like a mantra carries a person in meditation: “go gently.”
I saw how “going gently” created such a nourishing transition time for us and cushioned us. It fortified me to go into the long evening of taking the kiddos to sports practice. It nourished me to bring spaciousness and gentleness into me doing bedtime alone with the kiddos (a big trigger for me) as my husband had an evening meeting at our children’s school.
But then today, I woke up this morning with the anxiety of returning to school and our schedules. I got up early to return emails and tend to work-related matters. As I began to type my emails, my body wanted to hurry. My fingers wanted to type quickly.
Why? Two reasons.
One – Just as many of us are, I’m addicted to hurrying.
Two – I’m addicted to hurrying because I’m trying to control the anxiety that courses through me in the morning. The particulars of our anxieties may look different from each other’s but they come down to this: fear.
We try to avoid feeling any sort of fear — the little “everyday fears” and the bigger fears.
And yet your fear/my fear just wants to be seen, acknowledged, and skillfully held so it can shift all on its own. Keeping it at bay is helpful until we are in a resourced enough space to be with it skillfully. But there comes a time in our lives when our fears will say, “Now! I need you to see me now!”
In my work as a somatic psychotherapist and Compassion Coach sitting with clients, and with decades of my own “ever deepening” mindfulness, meditation and prayerful practice, I’ve witnessed how gentleness soothes and heals even the deepest fears. Gentleness is not the most popular or easy path. Yet it is the way of the mystics and sages. And something holy within us is drawn to its simplicity and power.
With gentleness, we can:
~ skillfully allow the fears that quicken our steps, frazzle our nervous systems, and influence our breathing to finally GENTLY come forth.
~ “unlearn” the breathing patterns of painful experiences that have made our breathing shallow and quick.
~ remember how it feels to be at ease — as we type on our phones, as we make breakfast, as we go about our work, and as we relate to our dear ones.
~ let go of racing through life and harshly pushing the body, always trying to contain fear.
~ begin to pause and learn to deeply care for ourselves in moments when anything unpleasant arises within us.
So as I typed the emails in the early morning, I softened into my breath. I told my fingers that it’s ok to slow down. I paused a few times to be kind to the fear within me – even thanking it, for it wants my attention and wants to be acknowledged. I gave space for the tension, anxiety and fear to be here. “I’m breathing with you,” I said.
When you do this – when you soften into your breath, give space for your fear (tension, etc) to be here, and treat it reverently and gently, you are not only MANAGING your fear but you are creating the conditions for it to dissolve.
Under the wing of such compassionate presence, we get grounded and resourced while we offer presence to whatever arises. “Ten thousand things rise and fall” as Lao Tzu say. And we love those ten thousand things – anxiety, fear, worry, tension – allowing them safe passage and to flow through, shift and dissolve in the presence of such abiding love.
So “go gently.” Be on the path of gentleness.
Love to you all!
Dear Ones, Over the years, other therapists and healers have started to come to me for their own self-care and support in practicing this “art of gentleness” — with their own traumas, wounds, and soul needs. I, too, see my own set of healers. I see how we cannot — nor are we supposed to — do this work alone. Yes, we can learn practices that we can bring into everyday life, but there are times when we need the accompaniment of a skillful practitioner to be alongside us. The culture promotes the path of “going at it alone,” being harsh, pushing ourselves, staying busy, striving for control, and overriding our body’s innate wisdom. The path of gentleness is the complete opposite. In my work with people through somatic psychotherapy and Compassion Coaching, clients experience IN THEIR BODIES how “going gently” is the holding space for deep healing to happen and to connect to one’s inner vibrancy.
If you have considered Coaching, take the next step and sign up for a free consult. I work via Skype, Facetime and phone. If you are local, I do compassion coaching and somatic psychotherapy in person.