I teach from the Kripalu Yoga tradition. Swami Kripalu was a dedicated yogi who came to the United States to visit the ashram one of his students had founded in his honor. It was there that Swami Kripalu gave many talks and stayed far longer than he had anticipated due to the love and dedication of his American students. During these talks he would find ways to take deep yogic practices and philosophies and make them relevant to the day to day.
One of his teachings was from a main text of the tradition which spoke to the idea that even a little bit of practice brings great good and that on this path, no effort is wasted. Imagine that. Deeply. What it is saying is that what you do matters. It is saying that even your attempts matter. It is saying that it does not need to be grand, “liked” or even finished. This stands in sharp contrast to the world we live in where it seems that the running mantras are: “What I am doing is never enough” and therefore, “I am not enough.” Too many of us feel less than in our attempts to keep up with demands, expectations and schedules that far exceed any human being’s capacities. To look at what we are doing versus what we have not or are not doing is a radical perspective shift; one that requires that we release the harmful striving, let up on the self-criticism and begin to notice the value in our efforts.
It is a wise person who learns to see the truth of who they are; to see not just their shortcomings but also their strengths and contributions. Central to a personal medicine is the capacity to see ourselves fully, taking in our accomplishments in a way that nourishes us and by extension the world. And the paths that get us there are many. It does not matter what you choose, only that you commit to recognizing your efforts in life. It is a literal and metaphorical slight turn of the head.
Try this: As you are drifting towards sleep each night, look over your day. Find one thing that you feel proud of and hover over that. It does not matter how small or seemingly insignificant. Drink it in. Over time this orientation begins to shift the balance away from the perception that you are not enough and that what you do is not enough to a clearer and brighter sense of yourself.
P.S. When I remember to do this, I fall asleep easily and immediately. This is far more empowering than any sleep pill you could ever take; truly effective with no nasty side effects!