To keep us tender in this world is the hardest, yet most important thing.
Tenderness is like prayer. It is a humble intimate act as we settle into our vulnerabilities; as we gather all parts of us that were meant to be whole. Tenderness is a blessing. It is the source of water poured into the soil of our soul, into which we’ll nestle bathed and moist like newborn babyskin. Tenderness is to love; to open our heart truly and fully to hold and be held, to receive and be received. Tenderness is healing because to heal is to be strong enough to remain tender. Our tenderness is our lifeline.
Treating ourselves with compassion allows us to engage more deeply with ourselves and come into our wholeness. Slow down and be tender with your heart. As we settle into our vulnerabilities, we come to terms with our innermost world of feelings; to flow like water unresistingly filling forgotten dry parts inside of us with forgiveness and compassion. In this nourishing way, we gain a much needed appreciation honoring our emotional needs and come into a deeper relationship with our self.
Losing our tenderness is like losing our soul and yet it is so easy to lose it when we fall prey to today’s evil eyes and negativity. And why should we even stay tender in a world so hard as crucifixion nails; in a world where toughness is rewarded and we are constantly cursed by malicious gossip, criticism and verbal cruelty (among all else)? How can we cultivate our tenderness through such injustice? How can we bless our tender parts?
It is natural to be gentle when all is well but how gentle are we to ourselves when we are hurt or faced with cruelty? When we are stripped to our skeleton by negativity and pain, it is so easy to lose our tenderness. And yet it is precisely in these times when we need it most.
How do we talk to ourselves when we can’t meet our impossibly high goals? Do we treat ourselves with harshness, criticism and judgment? How do we talk to ourselves when we’ve been rejected or failed in something? What words do we speak to ourselves in our most fragile, weak and embarrassed moments? How hard is it to forgive ourselves and gather all parts of us that were meant to be whole? What do we feel when we put our hands to our face?
Tenderness means feeling all of our feelings – anger, fear, sadness, hopelessness, and allowing ourselves to feel it anyway. We need to have compassion and gentleness towards ourselves no matter how we feel. In fact, the most powerful way to banish curses and evil eyes is by love and compassion, through forgiveness and refusal to accept such behaviors as our own. It is okay to say, “I am afraid. I am worried. I am sad.” And there is much freedom in giving ourselves the permission to say, “I don’t know.” In this fragile openness, we come into a whole new understanding, intelligence and connection.
Whatever you feel, just remain with yourself because it is precisely through these uncomfortable moments that we build a deeper relationship to self.
Fall tears fall like flowing water fall so that we soften knives so that we flow again so that we flow.
When we are faced with hardships and challenges, our body hardens and this also causes our heart chakra to close off. In fact, in many cultures the evil eye is considered to be a “drying” condition. We are stripped off of our moisture, nourishment, love and joy. It dries us up. It hardens us. And in many ways we become like dry desert land in desperate need of a water well. In our hardest moments we need to be most gentle to ourselves. So when faced with drought – call in the waters. Cry, ask for help and support, bathe in salt water, take a shower, wash your clothes and bedsheets, nourish your skin, drink water, pour from the well of forgiveness, and hold yourself sensitively in your arms speaking softly love to you. Through water we explore our emotional depths, feel our feelings and come back to our heart.
It may feel really uncomfortable to sit in our vulnerability and fragility. It may make us feel weak, helpless and powerless – but it is actually during our unconditional openness that we come into our wholeness and self-acceptance; it is while allowing ourselves to flow through our vulnerability that we become invulnerable. Blocking that means blocking the connection to ourselves. As we learn self-tenderness, we come back to life and allow a deeper relationship to unfold within us.
“Be like water,” Taoists will tell you. Water is incredibly powerful even though it does not show its powers often. We must learn to flow inside without resistance so that we come into equilibrium and resolve ourselves into inner peace. Soft, emotive, compassionate, forgiving and caring we must be towards ourselves – and be able to feel into our feelings without rationalizing them or judging them. It is not about thickening our outer skin – it is about nurturing and protecting our inner skin, the soil of our soul.
Follow yourself back to your tender parts, like the inside of your forearm. Have you noticed how soft it is despite age and circumstance? Life changes us – our bodies begin wearing burdens whether seen or unseen; whether ours or of others – and sometimes we lose sight of the tiny gentle things. Just above the fragile wrist, is the place where we can trace ourselves back to the very beginning – we can remind ourselves of the tenderness that never changed; of what we forever hold in our hearts despite changes, despite age, despite hardships; of the way we hold our bared gentle parts, remembering ourselves into wholeness.
Our greatest adversary to a deeper connection with self is forgetfulness; forgetting our deeper truth, love and potential. It is our tender places that remind us where our resilience is; how despite the hardships we remained soft in these places and we can settle into the safety of this gentle knowing. And finding these moist fertile places within the soil of our soul shows us where new seeds can grow.
We all adapt to our environments and in desert places cacti (and other plants) have adapted to grow sharp edges and hard dry surfaces to survive. Needless to say, we all become our surroundings to “survive”. And yet it doesn’t mean that we are stripped of that which is inherently in us since birth. No matter how “dry” we’ve become, water can always be found in the desert if we dig long enough beneath our feet.
Sometimes we may need to dig really really deep to find that sacred well of life. It’s tough work to find something within that we thought we’d lost – but I assure you it’s there, just like the soft inside of your forearm. Even if we find just a drop, collect it one by one like raindrops – keep it and treasure it.
To bless our tenderness is to protect it and nourish it.
Our tenderness is meant to be shared with those we love who are true to us. Wearing our armour of protection is needed but we should also know when and with whom to take it off. Share your tenderness with long touches and deep love making. Share it with laughter and tears. Share it with long intentional conversations and whispers of sweet nothings in the ears. Share it with true intimacy and share it all with an open heart. Say “I love you” even when you think they know; say love, say love anyway, say love despite the love.
When fights or conflicts happen, it is easy and instinctive to go into a hardening mode. It is effortless to be critical and judgmental towards ourselves when we think we’ve failed or have been rejected in some way. It is easy to want to take revenge when someone has harmed us; to wonder, why the hell should we stay kind in this harsh world; what’s the point?
But we should remember that our own hearts need us to remain in our tenderness. Don’t curse yourself by falling into the negativity you’ve absorbed from elsewhere. And once you find your sacred well of waters, protect it and share it only with those close to us.
And then there are times when we might find ourselves thinking, “Where is the love? Where did the compassion go?” These are the times when regardless of how kind, compassionate, loving and generous we’ve been, somehow we are faced with not being appreciated, nor supported, nor loved in turn. But in these times, I feel you should remember that love is still there – it is you. Does the sun ask, where is the light? It is you darling; it is through you, through your love, your forgiveness, your empathy, your very essence and mere presence in this world, that others experienced love in this moment. And it is through your love that they are faced with the opportunity to respond; some will, others will not. But what matters is that you stayed true to your heart and your values. And if it’s time to walk away, because you are not respected, loved nor treasured, then walk away with peace.
There is nothing more powerful than a heart filled with love, and our tenderness is the way towards it. When we follow its thread of water, it leads us gently to our core where despite hardships we remained resilient and unbreakable; like water we changed shape sometimes, from sea to vapour to rain to river to sea again, and yet our essence remained the same. In a way – our tenderness is our hardiness because no thing and no one was capable of destroying that part of us nor take it away. This is our greatest strength. This is our source of life. And when we allow to be tender with ourselves, we’ll also be more tender with each other. So call in the waters, for it is in your tender places where you truly are.
Cover Photo: Personal Archives Positano, Italy 2019.
Much Love & Peace
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