"Several years ago, I attended a retreat at which the leader directed us in a unique exercise. He told us to touch our eyes and to thank that part of our body for all those years of faithful service. We thanked our eyes for the years of eyestrain in studying for exams and being subjected to chlorine in swimming pools. We thanked them for the beauty they had brought to us and how our sight had kept us safe on many occasions. We paused for a few minutes and then we went on to the next part of the body. We quietly meditated on how our ears had faithfully served us. By the time we reached our shoulders, tears were streaming down my face.

"How hard I had been on my body all these years, with never an expression of appreciation! For the first time I experienced compassion for my body. In doing so, I experienced compassion for myself.

"After that experience I began to feel differently about myself. All those years I had demanded so much of myself and was critical when I did not live up to my expectations. I never thought to thank myself for what I did accomplish. I had always evaluated the results but failed to look at the effort.

"I had often thought that eventually I would love myself when I was holier, smarter, thinner, or more attractive. I would love myself when I was more successful, more organized, or more popular. What a surprise! Here I was — loving myself just as I was with all my limitations. I was feeling compassion for all the struggles and sorrow that had accompanied my journey, and I was grateful for what I had accomplished."