Compassion, Gratitude, & Rest in the Year of the Tiger
by Suzanne E. Sky, MTOM, Life Resilience Coach
Tomorrow, February 1, I’ll celebrate Chinese New Year which also marks the beginning of spring in the lunar calendar, even though here in Oregon it’s 29 degrees most mornings! For me, the time between January 1st, our Western New Year, and Chinese New Year, is a quiet, in-between time that I savor. A liminal time, where I find myself reflecting on what’s been gleaned from the previous year and deeply listening to which themes and projects are calling me as we all journey into this water Tiger year ahead.
For months now, I read in the news and in daily emails from peers who are soulful life coaches, solopreneurs, and therapists that mental health issues are dramatically on the rise - ongoing stress, burnout, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. There’s been so many challenges over the last two years and so any unknowns still ahead.
How are you feeling?
What helps you come back to your center, your heart, during challenging times? It’s helpful to remember that we are also impacted by the collective consciousness; we are all connected and interdependent in the web of life. There is so much going on in the world and these collective experiences can build up pressure in our nervous system, compounding our own feelings of being anxious and stressed.
How can we hold loving awareness of the suffering, pain, and challenges we are facing at home and worldwide without denying or pushing them away, along side our joy, love, and gratitude for the beauty all around us and gift of life? The light/shadow, yin/yang of life itself.
For my part, alongside many others, I’m called to continue exploring practices that can help us traverse through this planetary transition we are in, with our hearts open. To start with, here’s three simple and powerful practices to nourish your heart and restore your energy: kindness, gratitude, and rest.
Kindness and Compassion
Treating ourself and others with kindness is a simple and powerful practice. The Dalai Lama says his only religion is kindness. Kindness can include drawing boundaries for ourself, taking regular breaks from social media or the news, saying no when we need to, and taking time to simply rest. Extending kindness to one another, we soften and open our heart, and enhance our social and intimate connections. Being kind to ourself and others we naturally extend compassion, another quality known to enhance resilience and well-being.
A powerful activist friend, also a coach, teaches gratitude as a core practice and tool. In my experience, cultivating conscious gratitude throughout each day is one of the most life-changing practices. Neuroscience agrees. When I wake in the morning, right away I am naturally thankful for a new day, for my dog Ginger, and maybe in awe of the infinite blue sky, with rosy orange pink colors streaming through the clouds. Some people keep a gratitude journal. Consciously noting even one thing we truly feel grateful for each day engages and opens our hearts in a way that supports our nervous system. Gratitude expands our awareness and gets us out of our thinking, judging, reactive mind as we become present in our heart. What a relief! Gratitude is as essential to life as sunshine.
A friend forwarded an email to me that reminded us to rest, rest, rest! We are so often encouraged to have more grit, to work harder, ignore what’s going on, and push through. Overdone, and especially in these times, this approach takes its toll and we can burnout. Overdoing and pushing through can keep us locked into the reactive nervous system, denial, and back brain survival mode. Instead, create time regularly to relax and rest. Maybe you like to draw or paint or take a long walk by the ocean or hike through a forest. On my lunch break, I often love to sit outside in my wicker rocking chair on a sunny day and watch the clouds go by for a little while. A short afternoon nap can be very refreshing. In the evening, soaking in a warm bath and listening to some soothing music can help us fall asleep and enjoy restorative sleep.
What these three practices have in common, simply put, is they help relax our nervous system, connect us to our heart, engage the higher brain centers, and replenish our energy reserves. There’s so much neuroscience that explains this in depth but really, kindness, compassion, gratitude, and rest are fundamental human qualities that connect us to our basic goodness and to each other. This renews our spirit and helps us carry on.
From my heart to yours, Suzanne Sky - Life Resilience Coach
As a Life Resilience Coach, I offer a heart-centered approach to support purpose-driven women in transition in creating the meaningful life they love.
We work together in a collaborative coaching process to identify practical steps you can take in alignment with your abilities, core values, and life vision so you can live your heart and create the impact you want. My whole person coaching integrates compassionate awareness, collaborative dialogue, gentle inquiry, and an invitation to engage in journaling and embodied awareness practices.
I offer a free 30-minute Connection Session to discuss the possibility of us working together. I'd love to meet you!