I have talked about self-compassion and how powerful it can be in relieving suffering. It is not the answer to all suffering but it goes long way towards helping us to live well and flourish.
Sources of Suffering
There are numerous sources of suffering and here’s one way of categorizing them: -
1.It could be physical, such as when we continue to eat even after we are full, or when we drink too much and then get a hang over the next morning or when we spend hours surfing the internet sitting and getting a backache.
2. It could be mental, when we have thoughts of ill will towards ourselves or others or when we ruminate about something.
3. It could be emotional, when we feel depressed, sad, angry or fearful.
4.It could be relational, when we are unable to connect with others authentically.
5. It could be spiritual, when our values are undermined or when we don’t nurture them.
The pathway to self-compassion is to mindfully look at these areas and start to recognize and accept the suffering that maybe present. We can then use mindfulness based meditative practice to address the suffering.
Meditation for Self- Compassion
Good place to start self-compassion practice is by sitting quietly with spine straight and head held high but slightly tilted downwards.
Once you assumed a comfortable position notice your own breath going in and out your body. The breath maybe noticed going in and out by the sensation at the nostrils or by the movement of the belly going in and out or you might notice it at some other part of the body. It doesn’t matter where you notice the breath going and out of your body but the important thing is to notice the breath all the way in and all the way out of your body. Almost certainly your mind will wonder to other thoughts or images but just acknowledge that the mind is somewhere else and gently bring it back to the breath.
After two to three minutes turn your focus inwards and start to notice sensations in your body. What sort of feeling you experiencing right now? Is there temperature differences or discomfort in different part of the body? Is there muscle tightness or tension anywhere? Is there pleasant sensation anywhere? Is some part of the body feeling lighter than another part? You may notice other experiences.
Just notice these sensations or experiences and accept them without judging whether they are good or bad. Continue this for 5-6 minutes.
Then with all your heart say the following words:-
May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I live with ease.
You may repeat these wards as many times as you like and when you are ready open your eyes, but try to carry any good will feeling you may have experienced during the meditation as long as you can for the rest of the day.
The idea of this meditation is not to necessarily feel good but to feel the suffering, witness it, accept it and to show compassion towards yourself. In this way we are concentrating on addressing the suffering we feel and are not engaged in blaming or calling others or ourselves derogatory names or planning how to get even with others who may have done us wrong. The wise say it’s no point wishing our enemies death because they are going to die anyway. Therefore lets just concentrate on addressing our suffering with the right thinking and right action.
It is important to have regular formal mindful practice to experience the benefit, just reading and knowing about meditation or mindful is worthless. The research confirms that the beneficial changes in the brain only occur with consistent regular practice.
Until the next time, may you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy and may you be at ease. I will put up some more mindful based self-compassion meditation in the future posts.
C.K. Germer – Open Heart, Open eyes: Practicing the Art of Self Compassion.
http://www.flickrhivemind.net for the photos
- Meditation makes lasting change in brain (scienceblog.com)
- 10 – 12 hours of meditation training can improve daily-life emotional regulation (sharpbrains.com)
- Meditate Throughout Your Busy Day in 3 Not-So-Calm Places (massageenvy.com)