If you’re reading this, be gentle with yourself…
After a panic attack earlier this school year, I took a session at a mindfulness yoga studio to develop some coping mechanisms to deal with my anxiety. The instructor asked me to come up with a mantra that I could leverage in moments of stress to bring me back to a state of calm and control. I settled on a quote from my favorite poem, Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann. The line I selected is bolded in the stanza below:
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
Be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
No less than the trees and the stars;
You have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
This verse alleviates the stresses of my day-to-day reality by refocusing the scope of my concerns, reminding me of the incomprehensibly grand, global reality in which each of us exists. In the time that countless worries come and go, trees remain rooted in the earth, and stars rise on the horizon each evening. Moreover, this verse paints the universe as a friendly spirit that nurtures each vulnerable, valuable creature with equal concern and benevolence.
Amidst the seemingly constant commotion of life at UVA; amidst the competition and the tendency to fall into comparisons, do take the time and the space to be gentle with yourself. If not you, then who?
Sarah K., University of Virginia