Opening to Self Compassion

wait in gratitude

“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?

Two wonderful women come to mind who have guided me along the way.

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

I have spent many years helping others find self acceptance and connection to their inner being. However, one of 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 breath 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 releases comforting hormones.

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

Namaste

In Time of Anger or Despair

angry sea

Angry Sea – Source: Dreamstime © Creative Commons Zero (CC0)

“In a time of anger or despair, even if we feel overwhelmed, our love is still there.
Our capacity to communicate, to forgive, to be compassionate is still there.
You have to believe this.
We are more than our anger, we are more than our suffering.
We must recognize that we do have within us the capacity to love, to understand, to be compassionate, always.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Come back to the love that is there, and let go of the anger eating at your heart.

Step away, breathe deeply and find your center, and its deeper knowing.

Distressing emotions are a part of life.

They pass when we stop holding on to them in our thoughts.

Learning how to handle them takes patience, insight and compassion.

Understand that beyond fear and suffering is always love.

Namaste

Find Your Sparkle

 

inner child

My heart was aching

For something lost

that never came into being.

I cried and cried

and felt better

But I forgot about my inner child.

She was afraid and sad

Keeping quiet.

She’s good at that.

And so I reached out to her

And asked her “How can I help”

She replied

“Just hug me …

Then let’s go play.”

And so we did

I found my inner sparkle

Thank you sweet girl.

 

For those of you who want to really embrace your inner child along with me, check out these Ted Talks for your inner child

 

 

* Meet Yourself in Your Heart

 

self compassion

The obstacle you are facing is a special gift

It is there to bring clarity and new understanding

Instead of finding ways around it or fixing it

And creating stories to make you feel right and in control

Take time to face the challenge

To ask your intuition and heart

“What wants to be known?”

Let the answer reveal itself.

There is freedom beyond this pain

When you meet yourself in your own heart

❤️

* Haiku – when the chips are down

when the chips are down

~

When the chips are down

be grateful for your journey

and take a deep breath

~

Nothing has gone wrong

Its time to change perspective

Find your Middle Ground

~

If you are new to this website, welcome!

To find out more about finding your middle ground please click on this link to the main page.

* When the Going Gets Tough

 

grounded

When the going gets tough … the tough get grounded.

The past couple of weeks have been like a proverbial roller coaster.  Now I have time to to reflect and share some insights.

I noticed there was a rocky start when I was in shock and denial. Wishing things could be different.  But the more I sat with the reality, the more I let go of resistance and found acceptance.

Yes, there was fear. Fear about what could happen. Fear about loss. Projecting anxiety into the future creates more  worry in the mind … and stress in the body. That is why finding time to pause, walk outside, meditate, BREATHE and practice yoga became so important to me.

Coming into the present moment and accepting the way things are, brings alignment rather than resistance and tension.
The universe aligned the best people and resources to tackle the situation and I knew that we were in good hands.

Since then I found time every day to pause and come fully in the present … and live my own words.

“Life is a series of highs and lows

Be grateful for the highs

Be graceful in the lows

And find contentment in your middle ground.”

The Middle Ground is always there for us every time we pause and bring our attention inwards with an open mind and heart. It is where love and spirit reside.

May you find it for yourself and let it nourish you through the lows of life.

 

* Solace

This is an inspiring and reassuring message for everyone who may be struggling in the lows of life right now. Thank you Cast Light!

Cast Light

“Nothing is given to man on earth – struggle is built into the nature of life, and conflict is possible – the hero is the man who lets no obstacle prevent him from pursuing the values he has chosen.” – Andrew Bernstein

The solace of struggle is knowing with conviction despite momentary feelings that it will move and grow you, either in perspective or on to what’s next. And even amidst struggle, we can always find an anchor of hope, a pillar of peace. No matter what you may be struggling with, you are never alone. Never give up and always be kind, to yourself and others. Keep hurdling the obstacles, being the hero of your life.

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* Pondering – Problems and Mind

 

problems in the mind

 

“All supposed problems are of the mind.
What is mind?
Mind is a collection of thoughts.
Where are the problems when they are not thought about?”

“The most efficient means to
destroy any problem is to
ignore the problem.
In the absence of the energy
required to sustain it,
it withers and dies.”

“When clarity is present there are no problems.
Why rely on the mind to provide the solution?
It is the mind that birthed the problem.”

Wu Hsin

These quotes from Wu Hsin really got me pondering today. I noticed how my initial thought was to dismiss the second perspective. After all, ignoring problems will not bring about solutions … It also brought up a core belief of mine that not addressing problems leads to passivity, inaction and fatalism. Now there’s a judgment for you…

It seems to be human nature to find problems and then we are driven to fix them. It is the cornerstone of most western cultures. Is this simply a habit of our thinking?

On the other hand, why would we want to efficiently destroy a problem. A problem is an obstacle that our thinking has created. Is the answer in its destruction? As the Zen proverb goes “The Obstacle is the Way”.

There is an opportunity for new kind of mindful awareness when we come across problems.

As long as we are externally focused we will come across problems and have a need to try to resolve them. When we turn our attention inwards to find clarity in the presence within, thoughts fade away.

What if we were to take Wu Hsin’s approach?

How would the world around us be different … and how we would be in it?

Just pondering 💛

TOP 3 WAYS TO GET UNSTUCK

If you are struggling or perhaps feeling stuck right now, take heart with this post from Dear Human Sheri 💛

DEAR HUMAN - A New Way of Thinking


You may be struggling. You may even be suffering. YOUhowever are not stuck. I promise.

Life is designed so that no being need be defined by what has, is, or will happen to you. Everyone has been given everything needed to rise up to the richness that resides inside. The is a grandness that can be lived out in any life because it is not material like the rooms you wake up in.

Remember that you are not limited by circumstances, hardships, suffering and pain. Know without a shadow of doubt that the only limit to living a fantastically free life is that which you allow your mind to attach to it. Above all, accept responsibility for the thoughts you have. Your mind, under the supervision of your spirit, can at anytime and under all circumstances be directed by the forces of love, kindness, compassion, gentleness, forgiveness and peace.

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* Being Graceful When Triggered

One of the topics I always come back to, is being graceful in the lows of life and how to handle the flood of emotions that most of us feel when we are triggered.
I have also noticed that over the past few years I have become less likely to react and am able to let go and come into the present moment.
As I re-read this post called The Argument, my body contracts and I feel an echo of the very same reaction running through me.
At the end I find myself smiling with relief and gratitude.
We are all on a path of learning and growth. 😌

Find Your Middle Ground

I can recall so clearly what happens when I am triggered. It still surprises me when I am, but I also know that it will pass when I let myself feel what’s going on. I used to think that being graceful was putting on a brave face and not showing how hurt I was.  Rather than storming off and vowing never to speak to that person again …. I guess I’ve found my own way of finding grace when triggered.

The Argument

How dare you!! 

Come into the present moment and notice

the pounding head, the clenched jaw and hands in fists

the thoughts that spark like fiery daggers

Don’t control me! I don’t want this! I don’t need you!

Feel the tears and absolute frustration

the vulnerability at being in this place of hurt and loss.

Loss of control. Loss of connection. Loss of understanding.

Become that wee girl too…

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* Struggling to be Happy

rainbows and bluebird
How can we be happy when we are struggling?

.. When we are in emotional turmoil and pain?
.. When our thinking and our body feel burdened and heavy?
.. When we withdraw from others and the world because we hurt inside?

We can’t…

If we think we can turn on happiness like flicking a switch…
If we expect someone to come and rescue us…
If we think things will be better – if only…
Then we have joined the storybook world of fairy tales, rainbows and bluebirds of happiness.

Yet most of us do it all time. Its part of being human and our ego’s way of dealing with pain. Our ego is the survivor and protector part of us. It would much rather escape into wishful thinking than have to face being vulnerable or feeling more hurt.

No wonder Walt Disney is so popular with grown ups!

So we focus on all the things we wish could be different. We wish this suffering would go away. We dream about how things might be or could have been.
And in doing so, we deny this moment and create more stories to keep us exactly where we are – still wishing for happiness.

The only moment for living is now. And now is the time for accepting what is alive in us … and to start to take small steps towards being happy.

The first step is to accept what we are feeling. By acknowledging and accepting that negative feelings are a part of life … and its okay to have them … we allow ourselves to begin the unburdening and the healing. The more we resist these uncomfortable feelings, the more resistance and tension builds up within us – mentally, emotionally and physically. Until it is released and healed, we will find ourselves getting caught up in cycles of inner struggle and the world of Disney, and we become physically weak and ill.

pause

Sit comfortably. Take a few moments to breathe fully and connect with the sensations in your body…. What is alive in your right now? Your thoughts? … Your feelings? 

Give these feelings… thoughts… and sensations…  space.

Notice where there is tension or contraction.

This is resistance to what is.

Breathe into it.

Allow it to soften and expand.

Give it space.

Embrace it.

It is real.

It is you.

Do not reject it.

This is a precious part of who you are.

There is nothing wrong with it.

Give yourself tender care for this vulnerable part of you.

woman alone

Ask – what does this part of me yearn for? … attention … recognition … understanding … acceptance … tenderness … love 

Let it show you what it needs.

That feeling is deep within you.

Connect to this living energy and embrace it all.

Trust that in doing so you allow the loving energy to flow and release whatever is ready to be let go of.

Wishful thinking and waiting for rainbows and bluebirds may make us feel better for a while … but our body and soul know that it is fleeting.

If you are experiencing one of life’s lows, perhaps it is time to reconnect to your very being and really feel all of the aliveness within you, instead of rejecting it and wishing it would go away.

Acceptance opens up real steps towards happiness.

Namaste

The Complete Serenity Prayer

The serenity prayer is an inspiring piece for people struggling with life challenges. It helps us become grounded and find our Middle Ground: that place to find serenity, courage and wisdom in the waves  of life.

What most of understand as the serenity prayer is actually the first stanza of an entire prayer written in 1943, most probably by Reinhold Niebuhr.

prayerI have written before about how we can bring the Serenity Prayer to life by asking ourselves certain questions. See my earlier post Are there Missing Words from the Serenity Prayer?

Now I want to bring more meaningful perspectives here by sharing the entire prayer.

The Complete Serenity Prayer

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

What resonates with me, is how I can bring this into my daily life. So I’ve let go of the the language of Christianity and penned my thoughts here.

Let go of trying to control things that are out of my hands.

Find the courage to take control in areas that I can AND should.

Take one day at a time. Enjoy each moment at a time. 

Accept life as it unfolds… both the highs and the lows.

Trust in a higher power that makes life okay.

What resonates with you my friends?

Namaste