“There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying yes to our entire imperfect and messy life.”
― Tara Brach
Joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself
- Mahatma Gandhi
We all have one thing that makes us suffer – a person we dislike at work, a health problem, financial issues . . . It seems very hard to let go of that one issue. We fritter away other opportunities to live life fully. The technical word for this behavior is “ruminate”. Negative ruminative thinking refers to our repeated thoughts about threatening or unpleasant such as upcoming exams and stressful events in the past or our future.
The research is extremely consistent. People who ruminate are much more likely to develop problems with depression and anxiety, and those problems are hard to overcome for someone who fails to change ruminative thought patterns
Over the past few months, I have chosen to spend my Saturdays away from Facebook and my laptop (Gasp!). I realize more that, our human brain was designed for handling conflict, solve problems and collaborate with others – often giving us a choice over the fight or flee part of the brain. I spend time pondering on a handful of powerful questions as I do my daily routines of laundry, weekly errands and action plan for the coming week – I call it - “Reflection with focus and awareness”
I take time to reflect on my worries, anxieties and failures and accept them. As a result, I am more easily able to tap feelings love, joy and peace by letting go sadness, frustration or anxiety.
Are you curious about the questions I ask myself? Set a 5- or 15-minute timer and start writing. Don’t edit it or redraft it – just let your thoughts and feelings flow. An alternate plan is to share your thoughts and feelings with a trusted friend who is a good listener. Some of my friends do share their reflections with their pet dog! <3
1. What do you most want to change about your life?
2. How have you tried to change this before?
3. What have you attempted in the past that didn't work?
4. Why do you think it didn't work?
5. On a scale of 0-10, how important is it for you to achieve change?
That’s it! Just writing answers to these questions often gives me insights. Later in the day, I follow this with another 10-15 minutes of action plans. I have a “solution-based” approach that minimizes anxiety and promotes acceptance and creativity. Want to know more about that approach? Send me your scribbles, thoughts and reflections and I will send you a summary of the tools I use.
Recipe for Self-Compassion
Want to feel love, joy and peace? Acknowledge your pain and suffering and cultivate self-warmth, self-care and an empowering attitude.
Ingredients:½ Cup - Gratitude
1 Cup - Self-Kindness
1 Cup -Connection
1 Cup -Mindfulness
Directions:Measure 1 cup of self-kindness. Mix in 1 cup of mindfulness to be open. Observe your feelings and thoughts without judgement. Sift in 1 generous cup connection of your loved ones and journaling to remind that you are not alone! Top off the recipe with a touch of gratitude. Let rise until you are bubbling with love and joy.
Serve generous portions to your hungry guests; chronic pain, failure or suffering until they feel full of love, joy and peace!
© Sudesh Kannan 2019 www.meditation-magic.com
Do you want to transform your relationship with yourself and others around you? Cultivate self-compassion as that generates good self worth – a key component of good relationships! Be sure to check out the quiz link below.
Kristen Neff, an Associate Professor in Human Development and Culture (Educational Psychology Department) at University of Texas at Austin, has written a very easy-to-understand tome on Self-Compassion. She shows that developing self-compassion is a healthier way of improving our relation to ourselves as compared to self esteem. Self-esteem refers to our sense of self-worth, perceived value, or how much we like ourselves. Low self-esteem often correlates with depression and lack of motivation. On the other hand, high self-esteem may result in narcissistic or self-absorbed behavior. In contrast, self-compassion is based on acknowledging our challenges and problems with kindness and objectivity. We don’t judge ourselves but accept ourselves.
Practicing self esteem helps maintain a better emotional balance, it leads to less depression, more optimism and more life satisfaction.
Kristen Neff indicates that there are three components of self-compassion.
Self Kindness – As opposed to self-judgement, self-kindness refers to the act of being kind to ourselves and our suffering. Very often we beat ourselves instead of being and warm and supportive during our tough times.
Humanity – as opposed to a sense of isolation. We often have to understand that imperfection is part of human experience. We are not alone in our suffering. While we may feel isolated, we have to realize that other people go through hard times too.
Mindfulness – as opposed to over-identification with the current challenge. It is easy for us to over-react or suppress negative feelings or emotions. Part of mindfulness to embrace the pain and suffering we are going through.
Check below to see how you can measure and evaluate your level of compassion. In the relationship seminar, we will discuss various ways of increasing your self compassion through meditation, mindful activities such as journaling and role-playing.
Check out my blog article Embrace Your Inner “Room-mate” for Creativity and Love on ways you can address your inner critical voice.
Here is a typical report on self-compassion -
These scales are 1 to 5 with 2.5 being the average.
The first three show components of your self-compassion (Self Kindness, Common Humanity and Mindfulness
Self-kindness - being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism
Opposing component - Self-Judgment: 2.60
Common Humanity: 3.00
Common Humanity - recognizing that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience - something that we all go through rather than being something that happens to “me” alone.
Opposing component - Isolation: 2.75 (Reverse score of Common Humanity)
Mindfulness - a non-judgmental, open state of mind in which one observes thoughts and feelings as they are, without trying to suppress or deny them
Opposing component - Over-Identification: 2.75 (Reverse score of Mindfulness)
Overall score: 3.06
a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.