Tag Archives: self-compassion

Day 24 ~ May Is For Metta 2016: Deepening Your Metta Practice

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“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals.  Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.  Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

 – Pema Chodron

One of the great gifts of Metta is learning to move beyond our personal experience into the understanding that all beings experience suffering just as we do and additionally, all beings wish to be happy and peaceful just as we do.  I find 30 days to be a great container for exploring a new practice or creating a change in our lives.  As we move toward the end of our container, we have a much stronger foundation than when we first began.

This is a wonderful time to re-examine our practice and how far we have come.  It is also an opportunity to see where more of our work lies.  At this point you know that you can always do your practice in a way that you feel guided to; so your guidance as you feel to.

My suggestion for  today is to deepen in two areas:

1. Loving-kindness For Ourselves

2. Loving-kindness For A Difficult Person

Take some time today to practice for yourself for a bit longer than you may have been doing since we moved on to the other categories.   Also, take some time to offer Metta for yourself throughout the day, perhaps as difficult feelings arise or just when you think of it.  Metta can be both a proactive and responsive process, so it is beneficial to work with it in both of formal practice and “on the spot” practice.  If there is a particular issue or struggle you are dealing with or that you may have noticed  as you moved through the month, such as difficult feelings, outmoded beliefs or unhealthy patterns,  bring this into your practice by offering loving-kindness to yourself with a more specific focus.

Additionally, take some time to work the category of Difficult person, referred to in traditional Buddhist texts as the “Enemy”.  There are clearly varying degrees of difficulty and this is something to explore as part of the practice.  At the most basic level, the Difficult person is someone whom we find it challenging to like or feel friendly towards.  It is someone towards whom we may have varying degrees of negative feelings.  Sometimes, just thinking about this Difficult person causes us to feel upset or frustrated.

Working with the category of Difficult person offers us the opportunity to go to a deeper place within ourselves.  Oftentimes, when someone causes a reaction in us, there are feelings and issues we need to resolve within ourselves.   As always, we begin by cultivating loving-kindness and compassion for ourselves.  We acknowledge that something is arising within us that is causing discomfort and in a sense, we comfort ourselves with our attention and our compassion.

There are always people and situations that challenge us and cause uncomfortable feelings to arise; this can occur in our work life, our families, and just in moving about in the world.  Often, we need to deal with seemingly difficult people and situations but there is nothing we can do to change the fact that we have to relate with them.  This is one of the places we can shut our heart down as we feel there is nothing to do with our feelings but stuff them inside.  By offering Metta, we begin to work with our resistance, which supports having a more open heart and mind.  It also gives us a vehicle for dealing with something that we may feel we have no power to change.  Perhaps we cannot change this outwardly, but we do have the power to create change within ourselves.

As we begin, we recognize that the Difficult person is suffering just as we are suffering.  Even though we struggle with this person, we acknowledge that they deserve to be happy as all beings do.  You may wish to choose someone whom you have struggled with for some time or just notice a situation that arises during the day, such as a frustrating phone call or stressful interaction with a coworker.   In the beginning, it can be helpful to choose someone to work with who you find is only mildly difficult rather than someone who stirs up very strong emotions.  However, if a very difficult situation arises, this can be a good time to explore responding with loving-kindness and compassion.  Remember you can always bring your practice to yourself first.  Once you are in that space of loving-kindness you can then explore extending it to the Difficult person or situation.

Daily Practice:

Do your foundational practices.  Find a comfortable position. Imagine yourself in the center of a circle of loving beings or enveloped in the feeling of loving-kindness.  Connect with your own heart center and begin your practice by offering the Metta phrases for yourself:

  • May I be happy.
  • May I be peaceful.
  • May I be free of suffering.
  • May I have ease of well-being.

Even if you did your practice at home, take a few moments as you as you go about your day to center yourself in the heart and repeat a round of two or phrases for yourself.  Remember to do your foundational practices several times throughout the day, especially when you are experiencing stress or difficult emotions.

When you feel ready to move on to practicing for all of the categories you feel to  for today: Benefactor, Beloved, Neutral Being, Difficult Person and All Beings.  As you begin, say, “Just as I wish to be peaceful and happy, so does this being wish to have inner peace and joy.”   Repeat the phrases for each category you are working with:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

As you become distracted or difficult feelings arise, use the Switchback, returning the practice to yourself until a sense of calm returns.  When you feel ready, return the practice to where you left off or move on to the next category.

At some point either in your sitting practice, as you go about your day or in both ways, take some time to explore the category of a Difficult Person more deeply.  Offer Metta for this person and also notice what arises within yourself.  Are there certain qualities about this person that you, too, may carry?  Maybe yes and maybe no; it’s all about exploring.  Remember, it can be someone whom you often struggle with or someone who has annoyed you or caused difficult emotions for you today.  Do your foundational practices and say, “Just as I wish to be happy and peaceful, so does this being wish to have peace and happiness”.  Begin to offer phrases for your Difficult Person, remembering to return your practice to yourself as you need to:

  • May you be happy.
  • May you be peaceful.
  • May you be free from suffering.
  • May you have ease of well-being.

To complete your practice, return yourself to your circle of loving beings or envision yourself enveloped in the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.  Really allow that feeling to sink into you, let every atom and cell of your being be filled with the energy of loving-kindness and compassion.

Take a few moments to reflect on your practice.  Ask that the merit of your practice be for the benefit of all beings knowing that in sharing this merit you, too, are receiving immense benefit.

Daily Journal Reflection:

Take some time to reflect on your practice of Metta for yourself and for a Difficult Person.

  • Have you noticed any changes since you began?
  • How did it feel to take some more time to offer Metta to yourself?
  • Are you able to see a change as you work with the category of Difficult Person?
  • Do you notice anything about the Difficult Person that may be something for you to explore within yourself?
  • Are you remembering to be gentle and loving with yourself as you practice?
  • May you have a day filled with happiness and peace.

Have a loving and heart-centered day!

Tashi Deleh! (I honor the greatness within you!)

Beth

Join HOA’s 7-Day Writing To Heal Challenge! Cultivating Self-Compassion ~ Day 1

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7 Day Writing To Heal Challenge

Cultivating Self-Compassion

Day 1

Member-JournalingAs I have been diving into the preparation for the next session of Writing To Heal ~ Transforming Our Grief, Loss & Change 30-Day Online Writing Program, I felt called to share an introduction of writing to heal here on The Heart of Awakening Blog.  Writing has been a part of my personal healing journey since I was a teenager.  If I didn’t have the sacred space of my journal, what seemed at times to be my only true friend, I am not sure that I would have survived some of the life challenges I faced.

I’ve continued to write in the form of journaling, poetry, personal essay, and articles related to holistic healing and spirituality.  Some of my writing is more public but it is a practice that continues to be at the heart of my own healing journey. And, it is one I love to share with others in a variety of ways as a tool for transformation and healing.  I invite to join us here on The Heart of Awakening Blog for 7-Days of Writing To Heal.  Each day, I’ll be sharing some thoughts, reflections and a writing prompt or two for you to explore.  You may wish to go day by day or just come back to them whenever you feel drawn to.  It’s your journey!

We live in exciting times when science can help us to understand tools which have been long practiced. Recent scientific evidence has discovered that the act of writing actually accesses your left brain, which is the analytical and rational part.  When you begin writing, your left brain becomes more strongly engaged which then frees your right brain to create, intuit and feel more deeply.  So, in a sense, writing takes you out of your head and into your heart; that’s a big theme here on HOA! This shift allows you to use all of your brainpower to better understand yourself, others and the world around you. And is one reason why writing can be such a powerful tool for healing!

Writing and journaling can help you to:

  • Clarify your thoughts and feelings.
  • Know yourself better.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Be healthier.
  • Solve problems more effectively.
  • Resolve disagreements with others
  • Practice good self-care
  • Access your creativity
  • Release and Express Held Memories & Emotions
  • Set Intentions

You may be saying to yourself, “But, I’m not a writer, so how can writing or journaling work for me?”  There are many ways to explore journaling and many types of practices.  Writing offers an opportunity to explore who you are, what are your likes and dislikes, and your strengths and weaknesses.  It is a vehicle to find your voice and explore ways you can flow more easily with life.

Over the next 7 days, I’ll be sharing a variety of ways you can begin to use writing and journaling as a tool for healing.  Feel free to share in the comments your thoughts, feelings and reflections as well any other ways you might work with writing as a tool for healing.  I have chosen a theme for these 7 days that has been coming up strongly in my own personal work as well as my work with clients most recently – Cultivating Self-Compassion! Sometimes it may feel like we’ve done so much of that work and then suddenly it’s clear there is more to do. There are always deeper layers to explore!  As we discuss during annual May Is For Metta practice, it is in cultivating self-compassion that we create a foundation for offering it to others and the world.  And, so we our journey begins…


 

Day 1

You might like to take some time today to decide where you will write both physically in terms of your location, e.g. your desk, out on the deck, on a cozy chair in your living room, etc. And, also, in terms of your writing space such as in a notebook, journal or on your computer.  You may just like to play around with a few options during these 7 days to see what feels best for you.  Also, do you want to write first thing in the morning, before bedtime at night or at another point in the day.  I encourage you to be open, creative and explore.  

Each day I will be sharing a few prompts for you to use to spur your exploration in writing to heal.  This will include a variety of types of prompts so you can continue to create your own writing to heal process going forward.  Our theme for this week is on Cultivating Self-Compassion.  Here are some prompts to explore today…

Quotes ~ If you’ve followed HOA for any bit of time, you know that I absolutely love quotes! They inspire me in so many ways but I have found them to be particularly helpful when I want to begin writing on a certain theme or just need a thought to get my words flowing.  I have shared two quotes and prompts below on our theme of Cultivating Self-Compassion.  Feel free to use the prompts or just write stream of consciousness on what arises as you consider the quotes…

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
― Gautama Buddha

When you read the Buddha’s words, what thoughts and feelings arise?  Do you feel you are deserving of your own love and compassion?  What have you been taught about loving yourself?  Are there any negative messages you have received about cultivating self-compassion like it’s selfish or wrong?  Are you willing to begin to cultivate self-compassion in a bigger way? If not, what’s stopping you?

“Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” Pema Chodron

Make a list of all the parts of yourself that you are aware of need more self-compassion. Perhaps there are some wounded parts, your inner children or maybe some parts you just don’t like to see.  Begin to write stream of consciousness or create a list of any parts of yourself that you think might need a big dose of love and compassion.  Be willing to list any feelings, patterns and beliefs that you might like to keep hidden, even from yourself.  This is a way to bring light to the shadow parts of ourselves.  Be gently and loving with yourself as you explore…

Feel free to share your thoughts and reflections in the comments below.

See you tomorrow!

Love & light,

Beth Shekinah