Deep within you is a well of tenderness.
Tenderness is the sweetness that arises naturally when you care for living things.
Tenderness makes your voice low, your touch warm, your gaze soft. All of your senses are gently and powerfully attuned when you live tenderly.
How You Are Robbed Of Tenderness
But you are being robbed of tenderness -- both the joys of giving and receiving. It’s not your fault.
Each day you are bathed in the message that tenderness isn’t important.
There is a premium on speed, and superficiality. It’s so pervasive that you hardly even notice. You think it’s just the way things are.
You receive hundreds of messages each day and you feel compelled to respond quickly --not at length, but in short, rapid bursts. You have long lists of things to do.
There is so much for you to do for work, home, family, that your life feels compressed – you are always at a run. You live a series of interruptions.
Every day you’re bombarded with upsetting news – a deliberate choice of the news agencies and social media. Why? It keeps you using, coming back, clicking. You ‘engage’ more when you’re upset. The companies that create the devices, and the social and news media, care more about your engagement than about your wellbeing.
Behind it all you notice a sense of irritation and an inkling that something is missing.
It is. You’re missing tenderness. The sweetness below the surface.
And you can reclaim it. Because it is yours.
The Anatomy Of Tenderness
Tenderness is a physical experience.
Your body is the ground of tenderness. It flowers when you are attentive.
This is why people feel tenderly toward their pets. Companion animals are content simply to be present with you. They enjoy being physically near you. Most importantly, their attention is not divided. They attend to you. If you want to be quiet, they are quiet with you. If you want to play, they play with you.
They are not waiting for a text. They don’t jump up and turn their attention to their phone or tablet. They aren’t distracted by what’s on a nearby screen.
For them clicks are meaningless, but your presence is full of importance. This is true engagement.
You can’t count on this being true with people.
More and more people crave what they are less and less willing to give – attentive tenderness.
Tenderness is grounded in your physical memory.
Your body is endowed with the gifts of your senses. You know yourself, others, and the world through your senses - by seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Each time you encounter something through your senses, it leaves an impression – in your body and in your mind.
This impression becomes part of your memory and comes alive because you can remember.
This gives you a wide range of ways to be tender to yourself and others, because you have engraved sensory memories of tenderness on which to draw.
You can spark those memories from the inside-out or from the outside-in.
Dare To Live Tenderly
You may think that tenderness is something you give and receive only in moments of intimacy.
That’s where is may be most obvious, but it’s not that limited. To live tenderly is to live intimately with the world. You are created for this.
Tenderness is a reflection of your greatest human gift – your love.
When your body is battered with incessant noise, images, and interruptions, your physical memory of tenderness is disrupted.
Living tenderly isn’t a matter of doing more. It’s about undoing.
The Challenge Of Living Tenderly
Living tenderly is a challenge because it is contrary to our culture.
Here are a couple of simple things you can try which can spark your tenderness. With these, you shift something you do on the outside to spark tenderness on the inside. They are small, simple things to try just to give you a reminder of tenderness that you then expand slowly into other moments.
Pick one, and try it for a week. See what difference it makes to you.
1. Dissonance is not tender. Shift the music you listen to, if it is not harmonious and melodic. Disharmony and persistent loud beats bash your body. They are actually physical assaults. You take them in not only through your ears, but also through your skin. Don’t bash your body. Sound waves penetrate deeply into you. Bathe your body in harmonious, soothing sounds. Treat yourself tenderly.
2. When you want to capture a memory, try skipping the picture. Experience the fullness of the moment with your senses -- live it -- and then keep it alive in the warm body of your memory. Learn to savor the living, physical memory which you cannot lose, delete, or have taken from you.
If living tenderly is something you want to cultivate, there’s a whole philosophy and set of delightful practices I offer for your return to tenderness. Enroll in the online course. I also offer personal coaching.
Tenderness comes naturally to you.
Will you dare to live tenderly?