Tenderness is a quality that improves life the moment it is expressed. Realizing we have temporarily lost sight of a goal, for example, often prompts us to berate ourselves with hurtful phrases such as, “I never follow through; I’m such a loser; I can’t do anything.” How differently we feel when we respond to our perceived failures with tenderness: “Oh, where did that goal go? I wonder what got in the way of my plans to accomplish that? What wisdom is my body trying to share with me regarding what I need in this moment?” A tender attitude opens us to curiosity rather than judgment, and curiosity is the first step toward deepening our understanding of ourselves and others.
Anyone who becomes aware of the expanding effects of tenderness knows first hand that, more than anything else, it increases the quality of our lives as well as the lives of our loved ones, our neighbours, and our co-workers. Tenderness is love made manifest; it fosters deep understanding and, best of all, room for the healing juices of forgiveness to flow. This is remarkable because life so often presents us with hardening, deadening experiences. When we are privy to pain within our immediate family or our global one, we often react swiftly with an instinctual: “Shut down. This is just too painful.”
Tapping each day to increase our store of tenderness is a fruitful meditation practice. It can begin simply with honouring something personal, such as the failure to meet a goal. For example, setting a goal to eat more consciously in order to lose ten pounds within a reasonable length of time, only to find ourselves eating emotionally and ravenously, without thought, can bring an aftermath of guilt and recrimination. Tapping in this moment, not to condemn but to understand, will flood the body with a spaciousness that leads to loving kindness rather than reproach.
“I guess I wasn’t ready and I forgive myself,” we say as we tap. “I wonder what frightening feeling, memory, or experience has been triggered by my plans to address my overweight concerns. Perhaps I’m feeling threatened by the feeling of starvation I had when I was a baby, crying in my crib, when my mother didn’t pick me up,” we speculate as we tap. Even if our speculation is inaccurate, it opens our hearts to compassion for ourselves, and compassion inspires the tenderness we need to approach our weight loss goal once again.
Tenderness. It is, in our fast-past, judgmental, exacting world, a challenging emotion to carry into every situation. Tapping to embrace the possibility of tenderness, for ourselves and others, increases our experience of it. Tenderness makes us more loving, more able to consider possibilities that take us out of harsh judgment. Tapping for tenderness increases our capacity for love.
Until next week