February 12, 2022

How I Learned Self-Compassion from an Unlikely Teacher.


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One of my favorite things (ever) is watching a brand new leaf unfurl right before my eyes.

Each day, bit by bit, the leaf unfolds—slowly, gracefully, without rush. And I accept it. I know it takes time. I’m okay with it. I watch and I wait, while days pass, sometimes weeks, before the leaf exposes her thin, glossy, lime green skin to me.

I’m in awe, every time. The young color, the silky texture, the perfectly woven veins—it’s mesmerizing. But it’s not only the surface-level beauty of new life that inspires me. I feel seen, understood, and validated by the leaf’s process of unfurling. It’s like mine. Slow. Unhurried. Gentle.

But easily, the slow nature of my growth slips my mind and I rush. I forget that healing takes time, opening requires patience, and expansion is slow-moving. I become impatient and hard on myself for the tightness in my body and the wall around my heart I have yet to fully break down.

My plant confusedly laughs at me. “Why are you rushing?” She poetically speaks by shooting out a new leaf. “Here, let me show you how it’s done.”

So, as always, I watch and I wait. I know it takes time. I’m okay with it.

I roll out my yoga mat, stretch my legs out long in front of me, and I reach until my fingers just barely graze my toes. I feel tight.

I breathe in. I breathe out. I deepen.
I breathe in. I breathe out. I deepen.

I drink in my deepest breath and pour it into the backs of my legs until just barely, my nose kisses the softness of my knees. They’re still slightly bent. But I’m opening, not fully.

Beside me is my plant who reaches her limbs out like I do and it’s clear she’s just like me. She does not open right away. The leaf that is flawlessly wrapped around her stem is tight like the backs of my legs. But I trust that she will open. Why had I forgotten to trust that I will, too?

My plant does not rush her unfurling. She does not feel shame or guilt or frustration for the time that passes before she’s fully expressed. She’s gentle, she’s patient, she’s simply living. I admire her. Why had I forgotten to admire myself, too?

I enjoy every moment of my plant’s unfolding. I love her when her leaf is tight and twisted, just as I love her when her leaf is open and exposed. All along, she’s beautiful. Why had I forgotten to see that all along I have been beautiful, too?

I forgive myself for forgetting and thank my plant for the lessons—because she reminds me to honor that my own unfurling takes time. She teaches me to be. To be without rush, to be with love, and most notably, to be with self-compassion.

I see her beauty, therefore, I see mine.

I feel her patience, therefore, I feel mine.

I trust her opening, therefore, I trust mine.

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