Practicing Self-Compassion at Home
In this second half of self-compassion we will need something to write in or draw your thoughts on, whether that be a pencil and paper or, my personal favourite, in a document on your computer.
This article is focused on giving you a roadmap to forming an ability to take self-aimed inquiry and turn it into something that can show up into your daily life. Something that I am constantly reconfiguring as situations shift and my own emotional agility is tested.
This process will take time and most importantly self-kindness.
As we learned from the first article, being with oneself to give insight into emotional intelligence and build emotional language will lead to, what we are now focused on, response forming.
To start off let’s ask ourselves, “what is kindness?”
Before reading the next line — I challenge you to find that answer within first.
Close your eyes and ask yourself what you think kindness is. Then ask, “What are signs of kindness?” And to go even further, “how do I want kindness to show up in my life?”
If you would like to, you can take time to write down or draw your answers to these questions.
In our roadmap of self-compassion we will start with:
Sowing seeds of kindness. We are all imperfect and vulnerable beings. And it is within our vulnerability that we can live an act through. Vulnerability is a strength. It is a strength of extending oneself to understand and to be open with others.
Learning to cultivate a nurturing voice. A voice of kindness is friendly, generous, and considerate in the way it accepts emotions, listens and speaks. Listening to our voice as it responds to the world around us will be key to understanding ourselves. Keeping a journal, drawing, playing sports, going for a run, singing, dancing, or confiding in another person are all practices of giving this voice expression. Along with letting things out, listening to what we are letting out will lead us to better understanding ourselves and bring overall happiness.
- Let’s practice developing a nurturing voice within. Write to yourself. Write to yourself as if you were writing to a loved one about how much they mean to you. Then, as a challenge, read it back to yourself out loud.
- Our own voice of love, compassion, and tenderness is equally important to give strength to as our more judicial and perceptive voice.
Emotional intelligence, as a skill and choice, is more challenging than shutting down, avoiding or becoming dismissive. It asks us to extend ourself and remain vulnerable. When we feel ourselves close off and remain so, we are choosing to live with our pain. Cultivating meaningful practices will bring us closer to ourselves and teach us openness towards others. Whichever practice of expression that you choose, giving yourself permission to love it and to grow in — it is the first step to owning your inner freedom to be.
EXERCISE - From the book, Happiness,
by Matthieu Ricard
Meditate on love and compassion
Meditating is a method of learning to experience things in a new way. Bring realistically to mind the suffering of someone who is dear to you. You will soon feel a deep wish and resolve to easer her suffering and remove its cause. Let this feeling of compassion fill your mind and remain in it for a while.
Then extend that same feeling to all beings, realising that they all aspire to be free from suffering. Combine this boundless compassion with a sense of readiness to do whatever is necessary to remedy their sufferings. Dwell as long as you can in the feeling of all-embracing experience of compassion.
If while contemplating on the countless sufferings of living beings you feel powerless and lose courage, shift your attention to those who enjoy some form of happiness and have admirable human qualities. Fully rejoice in these and cultivate enthusiastic joy. This will act as an antidote to depression and envy.
Another method is to shift your meditation to impartiality. Extend your feelings of love and compassion to all beings equally — dear ones, strangers, and enemies. Remember that no matter how they might threaten you, they all strive to achieve happiness and avoid suffering.
You can also focus on selfless love, the fervent wish that all beings may find happiness and the causes of happiness. Let loving-kindness permeate you mind and rest in this all-encompassing feeling of altruistic love.
At the end of your meditation, ponder awhile the interdependence of all things. Understand that just as a bird needs two wings to fly, you need to develop both wisdom and compassion. Before engaging in your daily activities, dedicate to all sentient beings all the good you have accrued from your meditation.