NOW HEAL THIS
EMBODYING SELF COMPASSION
At Wildform, no healing modality is left unturned. Now Heal This is where we explore the diverse and transcendent self care practices people are diving into with the hopeful promise of internal alignment.
Gina Minardi is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist—and bad-ass surfer babe—who uses her practice as a springboard for intuitive work that helps her clients navigate deep journeys within.
Her goal is to help her clients uncover a more fully authentic version of themselves. As she puts it, “I help people get more deeply connected with their souls, which have been there all along.”
Along with her clinical practice, Gina leads workshops that dive deeper into practices of non-judgmental self love. This month she’s partnering with Angelica Singh on an offering dedicated to embodying self compassion. In advance of that offering (details here), we spoke with Gina about how we can establish a deeper connection with ourself and practice sustainable self love that goes beyond an occasional bubble bath.
SELF CARE IS A BIG BUZZWORD RIGHT NOW, BUT FOR MANY PEOPLE IT’S STILL A MURKY CONCEPT. HOW DO YOU DEFINE IT?
Self care looks different for all of us, and all of the messages out there can be confusing. Sometimes we think it’s about clean eating, a massage, or a long weekend away—all of which can be very nurturing. But, at its core, self care is learning how to have a deeper and more compassionate relationship with ourself.
Sometimes I feel old patterns or behaviors creeping up and my critical side wants to lash out and say, “Oh, hell no! Not you again! I’ve worked so hard to get rid of you!” But life is messy and so are humans. We need to embrace both the dark and the light. Learning how to slow down, compassionately witness our pain, and tend to what we need in the moment is true self care.
I don’t think you wake up one day and go, “DAMN I LOVE MYSELF!!!” and the journey is over; I’ve been on a long and deep path of learning how. It’s not easy or perfect and it’s definitely not linear.
I see it as a daily practice of committing to yourself, lovingly observing and accepting all of your shortcomings, and recognizing what was passed down to you—messages from society, your parents, the imprints on your soul (I believe in past lives), romantic partners, etc.
WHAT IS AN EMBODIMENT PRACTICE?
As my co-facilitator Angelica says, an embodiment practice is where we come back to ourselves and utilize our bodies as instruments of expression, connection, and transformation. Ideally we are attuned and attentive to what arises in us and we stay with that experience. This offers our nervous systems a chance to engage, strengthen, or relax with a level of presence that also strengthens our connection to our core being; it also attunes us to the larger field of our common home.
CAN YOU SHARE A SIMPLE PRACTICE THAT SOMEONE CAN DO ON THEIR OWN?
Just slowing down and feeling your body in space—your feet on the earth, your weight on a chair. Feel your breath move from the inhale to the exhale and notice the pause in between, pushing your feet down into the ground slowly and with gentle attention. Take the time to really notice the sensations. It’s a simple yet very powerful practice.
IN YOUR EXPERIENCE, WHAT ARE SOME COMMON CHALLENGES OR BLOCKAGES THAT KEEP PEOPLE FROM EMBODYING SELF COMPASSION?
The schemas or belief systems that have been deeply embedded in our minds—whether from an abusive or critical parent, a traumatic life experience. We’re also held back by not knowing or understanding how to love ourselves or actively re-parent. We weren’t given a handbook on this when we entered life.
True self love is a process of learning how to witness and observe our thoughts with neutrality and compassion. The mind talks at us all day; how much we listen to it and take to heart is huge. Eckart Tolle says we should listen to about 10% of what our mind is saying, the rest is just useless.
HOW CAN WE IGNORE THE OTHER 90%?
Meditation, periods of being in nature, and deep silence help us to create space and breathe within the mind.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF THIS KIND OF WORK?
Once people experience more self compassion, they are warmer and more understanding of themselves when they experience failure, inadequacies, and pain in life. They recognize that being imperfect and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, but tend to be gentler when life falls short of set ideals. As humans we cannot always be or get exactly what we want, so when this reality is denied or fought against, suffering increases as a form of stress, frustration, and self-criticism. When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional balance is experienced.
WHAT IS SHADOW MATERIAL?
That which is unconscious in us. We often project this out onto others because it is disowned. It can be a positive or negative projection. For example, a husband who has a hostile nature might attribute this hostility to his wife and say she has an anger management problem.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INTERESTED IN BRINGING THIS WORK TO OTHERS? TELL ME ABOUT THE PATH THAT BROUGHT YOU HERE.
I’m a deeply loving and sensitive person and I’ve known since I was a child that I was supposed to help people, but I have always been really hard on myself—critical of my intelligence, my looks—which resulted in high levels of perfectionism. It was so emotionally painful and exhaustive to be me.
I projected this perfectionism onto my partners in intimate relationships: They were never good enough for me because I never felt good enough for myself. I was sort of a nightmare to be in a relationship with.
I really struggled with the question of how I could fully help people if I couldn’t love all of myself.WHAT CAN SOMEONE EXPECT FROM DIVING DEEPER INTO THIS WORK?
Oof. A lot. You might shed some friends or things in your life that weren’t serving you. You might quit that job that was sucking your life force out of you. You will make healthier choices—physically, emotionally, and mentally. But ultimately you will just feel more connected to yourself and others and put that deep energetic love out into the world. We need a lot of it right now. It has to start on the individual level to shift the collective pain body.
WHAT HAS IT UNLOCKED IN YOU?
I feel so much joy, appreciation, and love in my life. But I’m also able to sit with my pain on a much deeper level. I’m learning how to appreciate all of it. I don’t think we can only have gratitude for the good things in our life—we have to have gratitude for the difficult lessons we are served.
It’s also deeply impacted my relationship with my partner of eight years; I am the most committed and stable that I’ve ever been, and way less volatile—but I’m still a sassy ass Italian woman.
I always tell people that deep growth, self awareness, and evolving your consciousness isn’t a walk in the park. You need to learn how to embrace all of it and going through it can be really fucking tough. One of my girlfriends and I joke that it’s “peeling back the many layers of the onion, and that shit will make you cry.”
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SURPRISING THING ABOUT STRENGTHENING YOUR FOUNDATION OF SELF COMPASSION?
I’m less of a caretaker and people pleaser to others. I say “No” a lot more and actually ask for what I want. I used to avoid difficult conversations, but now my communication is stronger and more truthful. My boundaries are stronger. My sense of self has expanded. I used to be a frenetic over-socializer, but I’m learning to love my alone time (of course, I still love a great cocktail with my ladies!). But I don’t need as much stimulation. I can experience deep joy while staring at the trees in my backyard or sitting in silence.