Have you ever gone through a difficult experience and once you told a trusted friend you felt much better?
Did you know it is possible to show up for yourself in a similar way in practice? When we encounter an experience that we judge as negative (and life is full of them, isn’t it?) the tendency is to tense up and brace against the experience. On top of this response, many of us are conditioned to blame ourselves harshly as well, which increases the constriction and tension in the mind/body. A kind friend soothes.
Sitting openly with experience can have tremendous benefit.
Set the intention to be open to this experience, no matter how unwanted it is. Check in with yourself with care and compassion. Notice any physical tension in the body and acknowledge it without demanding it be any other way than it is. Take heart: whatever is being experienced is here already anyway. With gentle, friendly attention give yourself the same caring that you would a good friend. If you notice harsh words directed at yourself from your internal monologue, just notice them too as you would notice tension in your shoulders. Acknowledge harsh inner mental events without demanding that they be any other way.
Invite the tension and the harshness to soften if it will. Be ok if it doesn’t – just keep breathing and setting the intention to really be there for yourself. Soften, soothe, and allow your experience. Meet your harshness like a kind friend, with spaciousness and trust that this event will pass and with it the heavy emotions you may be experiencing. Close your meditation by acknowledging that this act of self-care and self-love is crucial for health and well-being. Far from being self-indulgent, it is a pre-requisite for showing up for others in your life as well.
Mindfulness and Stress: Being Your Own Best Friend
Jen Perry, MSEd, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Mindfulness Meditation Teacher, and Coach. Registration is open for her next 6-week Self-Compassion Class: “Meeting Your Self: Becoming Your Own Best Friend.” Contact me for more information. Jen teaches and practices at The Resiliency Center, which offers a variety of services for health and well-being. This month’s newsletter focuses on Resiliency and the Stress Response. Learn more and read the newsletter at The Resiliency Center.