“It’s dark because you are trying too hard.
Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly.
Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply.
Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. ”
~ Aldous Huxley
Few years back, I stumbled across this verse when my life was most heavy. Inspired by this, I bought a customized pendant that said “Lightly child, lightly” to remind me to be light with my life. I have been practicing being soft since then.
Based on what has worked for me, here is a 30-day challenge for you to be more gentle with yourself.
Your Body And Senses
The first 10 days are to be soft with your body and enliven your senses to the soft, luxurious feel of everyday life.
Day 1: Close your eyes and caress something velvety
You can feel your hair, your cheeks, a baby’s feet, a velvet coat, or a satin pajama. Just close your eyes and revel in the heart of softness.
Day 2: Taste each bite of a meal with zero distractions
Pick a meal today and eat it in silence. Only concentrate on the rich explosion of flavors in your mouth, feeling the textures brushing against your tongue. Linger on the aftertaste of the beverage as well.
Day 3: Listen to your favorite music first thing in the morning
Music is the greatest harmonizer. Listen to your favorite piece of music first thing in the morning and see how this sets you up for the day.
If you’re like me and have too many favorites, queue up one of your favorites the night before to avoid the paralysis of choice.
Day 4: Inhale a smell that you absolutely love
This can be the smell of food, an air freshener, a scented candle, or essential oils. Does this remind you of a place? Or give you a sense of security or excitement?
Day 5: Create a piece of abstract art
You may be the worst artist in the world, but try to have fun with it. You can even draw a big, blue circle inside a yellow square and call it abstract. Whatever suits the artist in you. Just remember to be light, as you’re not going to display this piece in a gallery (yet)!
Day 6: Pick a sport you’d like to try and try it
Different body types need different exercises, and not everyone has to go to the gym or run daily either. Some of us thrive on tennis, yoga, dancing, or simply walking really fast. Pick what works for you and try it out today.
Don’t obsess about picking the right one. Just go with something that interests you today and you can always change it up later.
Day 7: Cook your favorite food, or if you don’t like cooking, get it delivered
What’s the food that makes you all radiant inside without that uncomfortable fullness? Treat yourself today.
Day 8: Drink more water than your usual intake
There’s something about drinking more water that dampens my stress. Not only because it makes me get up from my desk more often to go to the bathroom, but also because it makes my head less fuzzy.
You can add a slice of lemon, a leaf of mint, or a piece of cucumber if you’d like.
Day 9: Slather some extra moisturizer to a body part that needs extra love
At least one of our body parts needs more moisture. Maybe it’s your hands, legs, feet, face, or stomach. Slather some extra love in there today.
Day 10: Take an extra long bath
This is not your quick-fix bath before you rush out to work. Stay 10 extra minutes in the bath and feel that warm water on your neck. You can use a hair mask or give yourself a body scrub if you’d like.
Your Emotions And Blockages
Negative or suppressed emotions rob us of our peace. These challenges are to tune into our emotions and remove any blockages that are hindering our path to gentleness.
Day 11: Ask yourself what you need twice today
During the day, spontaneously ask yourself what you need. Sometimes the answer may be water or food, and sometimes it may be peace, love, or a walk. Give yourself what you need.
Day 12: Watch a funny video that cracks you up
Do a quick YouTube search and laugh away. You will feel better after this no matter how you felt before.
Day 13: Call the most loving person in your life
When we are around certain people, our energy rises. We know they mean the best for us. No hidden jealousy or snide remarks to make themselves feel better. Call that person today.
Day 14: Buy something you’ve always wanted
Have you always wanted a lounge chair? Or a hammock? Or a bright blue shoe? The latest Nike Air Zooms? If you won’t be breaking the bank, go for it. Splurge a little.
Day 15: Declutter a small section of your space
Choose a small section, like your book rack, desk, kitchen, or closet, and declutter that section. You can either donate unnecessary items or recycle. Your mind and emotions will also have uncluttered by the end of this exercise.
Day 16: Do something you’ve always wanted to do
Whether it’s writing a poem, running a marathon, starting a small business, or climbing a wall, take one small step towards that dream today.
Day 17: Tell someone you love them, directly or indirectly
I know it’s not always easy to tell someone that you love them. Maybe send a text asking them how they are or telling them that you miss them.
Day 18: Write three pros about something you don’t like about yourself
What don’t you like about yourself? Is it your over-the-top ambition? Or your hips? Whatever it is, take a moment to write three pros about that supposed deficiency.
Day 19: Make the decision to let someone go
We tend to hold onto negative people either because they are related or they have been with us through rough times. But if they are always making us unhappy and insecure, we need to recognize this incompatibility.
Once you decide to let one of these people go, you will feel free.
Day 20: Don’t push yourself
Have you been pushing yourself to do something? Maybe to reduce sugary food, eat more broccoli, exercise daily, or write 1,000 words? Today, don’t do it. Just let it be.
Your Spirit And Connections
During the final lap of our challenge, we will connect with our past and strengthen our spirit so our resolve for gentleness will be long-term.
Day 21: Journal whatever is on your mind for 15 minutes
You can do this online or on paper. No one is going to read this. So, empty your mind and see how that feels. Can you feel your mind unclogging as you write?
Day 22: Close your eyes and listen to your heart for five minutes
Take five minutes to just listen to your heart or your breathing. If your mind wanders, let it wander and wonder. Listen to what’s going on within you.
Day 23: Awaken your inner child and let them play
Think about your childhood passions today. Were you a voracious reader? A childhood actress? Did you love to sing? Why not do these things now?
Day 24: Pick one wrong decision you’ve made and forgive yourself fully
Believe that you did your best given the past circumstances. If you hurt someone in the past and haven’t said sorry yet, call them or send them an apology.
Day 25: Connect with a stranger, online or IRL
When we connect with strangers, we realize that we are all more alike than different. Online connection can be in the form of commenting positively on a stranger’s post in a Facebook group or retweeting a stranger’s tweet to give them props. For IRL connection, you can smile at a stranger on the road and genuinely ask them how they are doing.
Day 26: Look outside your window
Go to your balcony or look outside of your window. Notice trees swelling with leaves, the bus that’s going downtown in a hurry, your neighbor’s cat staring out. Observe how the world is going on about its business.
Day 27: Help someone in some way today
This does not need to be a financial favor. Listen to someone who needs to vent. Make an impromptu tea for your husband. Hug your kid with a fervor that tells them how valuable they are.
Day 28: Remember one time in life that you’ve risen from the depths of despair
Has your heart been broken? Have you bombed a work presentation? Has a friend betrayed you? You have survived alright, haven’t you? Trust that you will also survive whatever life hurls at you in the future.
Day 29: Feel gratitude for 10 things and/or people in your life
I know everyone talks about gratitude all the time, and you may be sick of it. But please, please try this challenge for today and feel gratitude in all its quiet grace. Thank little things and big things in life. I can guarantee that your energy level will rise with the power of gratitude.
Day 30: Commit to being soft with yourself, because you deserve it the most
Congratulations! You have completed 30 days of practicing gentleness for your body, emotions, and spirit. Today, commit to being soft every day. Because you are worth it.
I invite you to try this challenge and let me know how it goes. Most of the challenges won’t take more than 15 minutes, and please feel free to skip over any items that don’t resonate with you.
Being gentle to yourself in a world that’s always pestering you with bossy expectations is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. I wish you a life of lightness!