Day 23 of 30: Self-Compassion
Over the last few days, you have been exploring the rides of emotional experiences. Welcoming them as messages about what is important to you helps. And if you don’t feed them with thoughts, they arise, they crescendo, and they pass away.
But some emotional experiences can be uncomfortable and ‘sticky’ (i.e., compelling). Once you welcome them, accept them, and listen to their message, then what?
A few decades ago, my therapist said “Be a warm, loving presence to yourself.” I heard him at the time, and I trusted his guidance. At the same time, I had no idea what he meant. It was not until I had a regular daily meditation practice that I ‘got it’.
One of the many benefits of a consistent meditation practice is the shift from being ‘in experiences’ to ‘being with experiences.’ You will experience a greater distinction between you as an observer to what is happening now and the content of what is happening now.
The observer part of you, your awareness, has the ability to rest with the many aspects of yourself. It has the capacity to pay attention to all the many parts of you, the many voices inside of you. There is the part of you that says “go for it!” and the part of you that says “wait a second …” and the part of you that asks “can I do this?” Awareness sees them all, hears them all.
Your awareness has the potential to bring a warm loving presence to whatever arises in you. The invitation to you today will be to practice it. But before we move on to today’s practice, why self-compassion? What’s the point?
Self-compassion is an integral part of ’emotional regulation’ and well-being in general. Being a comfort to yourself is honoring and it is soothing. It is also empowering, in that you always have it available to you.
The invitation to you is to do a little prep before your meditation practice today. If you’re up for it, think of a recent experience in which you felt embarrassment.
- Once you have selected one recent experience of embarrassment, set your timer and then practice calm focus meditation until you notice your concentration deepens.
- When you notice a shift into a more calm focused state, please direct your awareness to remembering the recent experience in which you felt embarrassment. Imagine it in as much detail as possible until the feelings of embarrassment arise in you now.
- As you notice the feelings of embarrassment, first say “Hello” to them. Welcome them. Silently ask the feelings, “What do you have to tell me?”
- After greeting the embarrassment, rest your attention on your bodily sensations for a few minutes. Savor them. Where do you feel them in your body? What are the felt senses of these feelings? Do you notice any shift in the feelings over time as you pay attention to them? Do the sensations create a sense of energy or do they feel draining?
- After sitting with these feelings for a few minutes, please turn your attention to watching your thoughts. Please don’t give any one thought energy by pursuing it. A thought arises, notice it, and then let it go.
- After a few minutes observing your thoughts, the invitation is to direct your thoughts to self-compassion by following a sequence such as:
a) Saying to yourself silently “This is embarrassment. I am feeling embarrassment now.”
b) Continue on silently “It is okay to feel embarrassment. It is a natural and normal part of being human.”
c) To get to the root of the embarrassment without getting fixed on the particular circumstances of your scenario: “I understand why you are feeling embarrassment. Being accepted and understood is important to me. Yes, I want to be accepted and to be understood.”
d) Comfort yourself with something in the spirit of “It feels uncomfortable to be embarrassed. Hang in there. These uncomfortable feelings will pass. Everyone feels embarrassed sometimes. Everyone messes up now & again. It’ll be ok.” or whatever is true for you.
- As time permits, once you have completed the explorations above, return to resting your awareness on the felt sensations of your belly while breathing.
How similar or different is this compassionate way of being with yourself compared to how you respond to yourself typically now? The more repetitions, the more natural & habitual it becomes. In relationships, self-compassion is a powerful skill. When difficult emotions arise, you can choose to self-soothe before sharing them with your romantic partner, family, or friends.
If you’d like, please offer what you learned about self-compassion in today’s practice by sharing in the comments below. Please raise awareness of this content by sharing it using the social media icons adjacent to it. Please reach out to me if I can support you.
See you tomorrow!
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