I love this exercise from Steve Flowers and Bob Stahl in “Living with Your Heart Wide Open”. This is a book I’d also recommend for those of you who would like to cultivate more mindfulness and compassion in your lives, while freeing yourselves from unworthiness, inadequacy and shame.
“Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. You may not be perfect, but you are all you’ve got to work with. The process of becoming who you will be begins first with the total acceptance of who you are.”
~ Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
If you met with a friend and she confided in you that she felt completely worthless and ashamed, how would you try to comfort her? What would you tell her to so the her troubled heart? In what other ways would you express your loving kindness and compassion?
Take a few minutes to reflect on this and journal about what you would say.
Now consider some ways you too have felt sad and unhappy, and offer words of compassion that are similar to what you would share with a friend.
Notice what happens in your body and mind as your offer this kindness to yourself. Pay attention to what comes up for you physically, mentally, emotionally. Turn towards your own aching heart and perhaps place your hand on your chest, and then acknowledge to yourself “I care for this suffering.” Feel deeply into this and inquire into the attitude you would have towards your friend or loved one….
Breathe into the tight places in your body, inviting a little more tension to release with each exhalation. Be tender and caring, even toward whatever comments arise from your internal critic…. From time to time, repeat to yourself “I care for this suffering.”