Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Self-Compassion: Ending & Beginning

I hope that this introduction to self-compassion is a good beginning for you in cultivating a compassionate life. We began our practice together with a few goals for developing mindful awareness –
• Exploring our own intuitive wisdom for providing a safe, accepting, compassionate space to heal from stress and conflict.
• Remembering that all of us make mistakes, especially in circumstances where emotions, needs, self-identities, cultures and other complex issues are involved.
• Reflecting on our own experience of self-compassion using Neff's six aspects of self-compassion.
• Recognizing the importance of Mindfulness as an essential skill for healing from the wounds of stress and conflict and practicing four skills of mindfulness.
• Identifying our own tendencies for difficult emotions and thoughts to 'flood' during stress and discovering some of the triggers we have in conflict.
• Understanding two important parts of our interpretive filters and how they might impact our well-being and our experiences of conflict.
• Paying attention to what happens with our body sensations, emotions, attention/thought and action urges and planning compassionate responses.
• Becoming familiar with our own vulnerability factors so that we can avoid, prepare for and/or make plans for healing from difficult circumstances.
• Cultivating an attitude of gratefulness, even when facing less than ideal circumstances.
It is my hope that the time you have spent practicing these skills has met some of your own needs for living more deeply, more compassionately, more mindfully, and ultimately more joyfully. I appreciate the time you have given me to share these ideas with you; it helps meet my own needs for contributing to others and, I hope, adding beauty and compassion to the world.

I want to leave you with one last thought about the importance of a compassionate life.
Everything we do becomes part of our lives - for a moment, for months, for years. We store the memory of it in our minds and even in our bodies. As difficult as dealing with the momentum of our difficulties and destructive habits is, the good news is that creating new habits in our lives creates new possibilities. Our levels of stress can decrease, and we can create habits that make joy and peace possible, and even support us in our most difficult situations.
May our hearts daily be nourished to walk the path of peace!