Long, long ago, in a galaxy before marriage and twins, I attended yoga classes. The instructor once had us all pair up with a stranger and look into his or her eyes, silently thinking supportive, kind thoughts. I smiled awkwardly, gazed into an older woman's hazel eyes and thought, "You're safe, everything is going to work out, you're doing a great job with your life, and you can be at peace." We sat for about two minutes doing this love-beaming exercise, and I started to morph from feeling awkward to rather warm-hearted and nice. Then the instructor told us to stop, close our eyes, and reverse the flow of kind thoughts right back into ourselves. I immediately burst into tears. The hazel-eyed stranger undoubtedly deserved unqualified support and kindness, but me? I was too far from the person I thought I should be to accept that. I went to the restroom and didn't come out until the classroom had emptied. Apparently I could face stretching my body into new positions like downward dog, but not stretching my heart into the unfamiliar territory of self-acceptance.
Today I lead postpartum support groups, and thank goodness I have to be the group leader, so I can't walk out of the group and cry in the restroom. I must open up that old inner self to some more compassionate attitudes if I'm going to be of help to my fellow moms.