Inner Dignity is the state of honoring yourself with respect, love, and kindness. When you practice self-compassion, feelings of self-worth bloom. Practicing means listening to the needs and limitations of your body-minds with unconditional acceptance. Why is it hard to feel this way?
My regular Wednesday yoga class begins with drawing a card at random from Elena Brower’s Practice You Daily Awakening Deck. The key word of the card becomes a sankalpa for the class; a place to rest our focus during pauses and an intention in postures. The cards on inner dignity seem to come up with frequency. As the teacher, I find myself a little flummoxed by the concept of inner dignity. The concept of dignity is not a reach, it means a sense of value or worth. However, the feeling of dignity seems hard to put to words.
What makes Inner Dignity a hard concept to grasp?
I sat with this question for many days. As I meditated upon it, I began to wonder, are we confusing inner dignity with pride? Given the puritanical underpinnings of an American upbringing, it makes sense to me that self-worth and egotistical pride could get confused, even more so among women. There have been moments in my life where I have felt confident and strong, only to be accused of being prideful or “full of myself.” As Demi Lovato sings, “what’s wrong with being confident?” Perhaps it is because so many of us do not experience inner dignity, that when we see it in others, it strikes a chord of longing.
How do we reclaim dignity without the internal pushback of our mental conditioning?
It starts with the practice of listening to ourselves – our bodies, feelings, emotions, and intuitions. We turn our awareness to our internal landscape and attune to the messages. For example, soften your eyes and sense the way you are sitting. Pay attention to the way your shoulders feel, your neck and jaw. Notice your upper back and your middle back. Take a deep breath, release judgment, and begin to listen to the messages your body is giving you about your posture, rounding, clenching, and tensions. Now listen a little deeper and you may be able to hear how your body is asking you to move or adjust. Rather than think “oh, I NEED to do this,” let your body tell you what it wants to do. And then do it.
By listening to the body and following through, we reclaim our inner dignity. The external world conditions us to its needs, with little regard for what we need. Sure businesses begin with an idea to make your life easier. Once the business becomes an institution, the goal shifts from serving others, to maintaining itself. Health Insurance is a perfect example. Does the institution of health insurance value you as anything other than a source of income? No. A business is an institution, it does not have feelings. I doubt that the CEO reviewing the numbers to present to the board/investors cares about the individual.
Nurturing and reclaiming your inner dignity is paramount to your mental health and stability in this crazy world. I know I need it!