By Adarsh Kaur Khalsa
In our modern world, we move quickly, focus on outcomes, and frequently shut ourselves out to our own emotions and senses. We rightly feel the need to protect and cushion ourselves from pain and suffering. In this paradigm, we may feel tough, or strong or accomplished, but are we experiencing as much enjoyment as we could? There is an element called softness, for which we have to be intentional about creating the time and space in our lives.
What is softness?
Softness is relaxed, softness breathes, softness listens, softness understands, softness acknowledges the moment - both pain and pleasure, softness allows and creates space, softness yields to movement and flows with the momentum of the current.
And what are the inner qualities that give us a state of softness?
If this sounds like a state you would like to experience, then why do you think you aren’t able to be soft more often? I have found that it is because there is a fear to experience our own feelings and not be in control of them or what is happening to us. There is an insecurity or fear about being who we really are, and we wonder if we are enough. Before the relaxation can be enjoyed, we will likely feel very uncomfortable when we attempt more softness. We may feel that we are not doing enough, and that we are not protected or productive.
The nature of softness is receptivity. Receptive is different than passive. With receptivity, you are actively allowing, actively accepting. You choose to be soft, which is empowering. This is not an act of submission to any person or outside thing. This is a relationship with the the universal energy, and it is through this relationship that everything else is filtered and processed, so that what you receive is what is meant for you. In this way, you can be sensitive and soft while being protected.
The irony is that we resist being soft and revealing the sensitivity of our soul and who we truly are in order to feel safe, when it is the allowing the softness that provides the most protection, love and joy. The infinite, the divine, the universe protects us the most when we are innocently vulnerable, just as the instincts are for humans and nature to protect a baby who cannot protect herself. Have you ever finally taken the courageous step to speak up for yourself or to bring a creation to the world that comes from your vulnerability, and found that you are granted with an abundance of support that you never knew you had? New resources show up, and you can feel the buoyancy of the universe’s support when you have laid yourself bare with your truth. The more we do this in every part of our life, the more we are willing to be that soft and vulnerable, the more this support will continue to show up.
Softness is about being focused more on the inner than the outer. We develop the inner to create the outer. That is why it is so feminine, and sometimes feels so foreign in our modern world. You might not feel that you are “doing” enough, it might not feel exciting enough, or valuable enough. But when we value our inner world, the outer world will support and reflect that. The inner world is where our self-respect is built. And what we develop on the inside is something that no one can take away on the outside. What is more protected and real than that?
When we haven’t developed ourselves from the inside out, a more familiar posture we take is a hard shell of protection. We put on a cloak of tension and a preservation mask, that doesn’t show our true emotions, to feel safe. Though we think we are helping ourselves, these veils take a toll on our energy, it is tiring to keep these up. And being tense is not the best place to respond from or to protect ourselves if we are indeed in true danger. Even in martial arts, there is a certain amount of softness you keep, a relaxedness so that you can better respond to any enemy. If you are too tense, then you waste your energy, and are slower to make a move. Another benefit is that when your energy is more soft, you can choose your response more clearly—you might get out of the way (“bob and weave” for the boxers out there), rather than attack back. It can save you energy, and take more from your opponent.
The protection as a spiritual warrior originates from her inner strength and connection to the divine energy—or you could call this universal energy or nature energy. Connecting to the universal energy requires you to be receptive. This gives you the power and support to know that you are not in this alone, that you will have what you need when you need it. You will know what you need to know when you need to. When you connect powerfully with your inner energy and the universal energy, then you can be more soft. When you already feel this protection, you can relax, you can feel the support, and you have the trust to keep stepping forward in action, with softness. You can trust in your more subtle aspects like your intuition to protect you and support you as well.
The qualities of inner strength and connection to universal energy are inherently part of you, and can be developed and revealed as you access and rely upon them. They both begin with self trust and self worth. Do the actions that build your inner strength—whether that be quiet time with yourself each day, physical exercise and challenges that build your physical strength, or repeating affirmations each day to remind yourself of your innate gifts and values. You can build your connection to the universal energy through your breath, through a trust in something bigger than yourself, and believing that you are worthy of being supported and loved.
Softness is being aware there is a bigger picture, it is being fluid. Softness is knowing that if this one thing doesn’t work out, there will be something else around the corner. Softness is being willing to make “mistakes”, being creative, vulnerable, or trying new things. Softness is a willingness to be fully alive. Softness is knowing and accepting yourself. Softness is being able to joyfully receive. Softness is knowing that you are a magical, powerful woman, and a co-creator of your life and future, and that you have an infinite supply of resources to support and nourish you and your life.
Recommended yogic practices:
- Stretch pose
- Sat Kriya
- Any aura building exercises with the arms
- Long deep breathing
- Grace of God meditation
- Meditation for Bhrosa (Trust)
Other practical tips:
- Do a body scan every night before bed and identify where you are holding tension. One at a time, breathe into those places, and on the exhale release the tension in your body. Continue this practice until all of the tension is released. Be sure to check in to the area of your breasts and chest to release tension, as well as your ovaries and the entire pelvis and hip area.
- When facing a challenging situation, notice if your response is to attack back. Ask yourself, is this the best approach to the situation? Will I get the outcome I want? Or, is there a way to try a softer approach (and not have your defenses up so strongly) to this situation that could create an equal or even greater outcome? You could ask questions, rather than immediately attacking back. Or, you could attempt a more collaborative solution to the challenge, rather than feeling isolated or that you must handle it yourself.
- After your response, assess if the outcome was different or better than your normal pattern. What felt good about it, and what didn’t? What could you try next time?
- Every week, commit to trying one new thing that is uncomfortable because it is vulnerable for you. This could be sharing with a friend how you feel about something, or creatively expressing yourself in an art form. Journal about your experience as you begin to share more of yourself.
Adarsh Kaur Khalsa lives in Los Angeles and loves teaching Kundalini Yoga, Naad Yoga and Celestial Communication. She is also a member of the Aquarian Trainer Academy and the Director of Yoga West, home of Yogi Bhajan. Adarsh Kaur believes the opportunity for spiritual growth is found in the everyday work and relationships of life. She teaches with clarity, grace and kindness, and shares practical tools that students can use outside of class. Follow her on Instagram here.
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