The Other Side of Comfort

chair

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“Those who want comfort in life have to seek conformity.
The result is false compromise and hypocrisy,
and a life without integrity becomes a patchwork.”

~ Swami Avyaktananda

I read this inspiration today in class and it seemed to resonate on many levels.

Enjoy connecting with what is true for you.

Namaste

* Having Compassion for Ourselves

self compassion

“Self-compassion is a way of relating to the ever-changing landscape of who we are with kindness and acceptance—especially when we fail or feel inadequate … Self-compassion requires acknowledging that we share the human condition of imperfection.”   ~ Kristen Neff

How many of us learned about this when we were young? … How many of us are teaching our children about this? …

In today’s culture, especially in America, there is so much emphasis on self confidence, competing to win and striving for what you want in life. Yet, so much of it is out of our control.

We all know that mistakes happen and we don’t all win the prize at the end of the day.

How do you cope with these natural downturns and disappointments that are a part of all life? And how can we prepare ourselves for the inevitable lows of life?

Sara Neff and Tara Brach have so much wisdom and guidance on how we can come to a place of self love and acceptance as adults.

“In order to flower, self-compassion depends on honest, direct contact with our own vulnerability. Compassion fully blossoms when we actively offer care to ourselves. To help people address feelings of insecurity and unworthiness, I often introduce mindfulness and compassion through a meditation I call the RAIN of Self-Compassion. The acronym RAIN, first coined about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald, is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness. It has four steps:

Recognize what is going on;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with kindness;
Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying with the experience.

You can take your time and explore RAIN as a stand-alone meditation or move through the steps in a more abbreviated way whenever challenging feelings arise.”

~ Tara Brach

self compassion

I have spent many years helping others find self acceptance and connection to their inner being. However, one the greatest tools I use, is not in our thinking mind at all.

The simplest way to allow compassion to flow and for the heart to open, is to sit quietly and place one or both hands above your heart center.

Take a moment and try it now.

This gesture activates a soothing response that we mammals have. It replicates the feeling of comfort, safety and nourishment at our mother’s breast.

As babies we felt it. As children we received comfort from a motherly hug. Yet, we don’t need someone else to bring about the same physical and emotional response.

You can give yourself this gift at any time.

You can also place a hand on your belly and let the breathe settle into the center of your being. When we breathe using the diaphragm, we activate the relaxation response in the para sympathetic nervous system. Anxiety abates as the brain releasing comforting hormones.

Connect to your breath and allow the nurturing energy to flow.

 Namaste

* Facing the unknown

The unknown can be a scary place to face.

facing the unknown

Our mind creates scenarios and one thought feeds an other… into distortion and fortune telling of disaster. We feel anxious, out of control and extremely vulnerable.

Yet, when we begin to experience the unknown, we start to believe we understand and feel more in control. “Yep – I can handle this after all. I can even be proud of myself for overcoming my fear.” It is a reassuring place to be…. until the next round.

So what can we do to ensure that we don’t keep going through the same anxiety and fear?

What works for me is to take myself into a quiet place and roll out my yoga mat.  I meditate and then allow my body to move through the emotions. My mat is like a magic carpet that takes me to a safe and loving place inside of me.
I believe that all emotions are energy, and when we are able to use our breathe and move our bodies in yoga, we allow the energy to move through us and release what is ready to be let go of.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to be present with everything that is going on and surrender to it in our body and mind using the breath.

Yet I also know that I am a fairly independent, grounded and spiritual person. I am a yogini. What helps me, may not work for others who have different perspectives and beliefs.

Today, I once again let go of wanting someone to be more like me. There is no right here, only finding a way to come together and help relieve suffering.

Others may find that distraction works well to keep the mind otherwise occupied. Action packed movies, car programs on cable TV and reruns of baseball games work well for someone I know. When the mind is distracted in this way, the body can relax and lets fear subside.
Compassion and reassurance from an other also brings comfort.

Ultimately, when we are in pain and struggling, it means so much to know we are cared about: a gentle touch from a loved one; a reassuring word from a friendly doctor;  a gesture of understanding from someone who has been through the same experience; a nurse with a sense of humor and warm knowing eyes; a friend who watches a movie with you.

Whether we find that feeling of love within ourselves or through connection to others, love really is the answer.

There is no right way to face the unknown and what lies ahead.
Finding the way to our own middle ground, where peace and love reside, can take many forms.