Articles August 4, 2018

Why Our Practice Is Essential

Linda Graham

When a recent storm blew through the Bay Area, it knocked out a transformer on my block: no electricity, no lights, no heat, no refrigerator, no stove, no phone, no internet for 36 hours.

I coped fairly well until the morning when I wanted to re-connect with my world. I noticed I was beginning to have a mini-meltdown; so many projects to create, send, track. I could feel the bodily contraction into frustration and worry, noticed the pacing, sensed I was close to hair pulling and nail-biting.

As I walked through my kitchen, my eye caught a magnet on my refrigerator, given to me by someone in the Mindful Self-Compassion class I teach with Jane Baraz. It was a beautiful photo of a lotus blossom with the words, “May I give myself the compassion I need.”

I paused, came into the practice of noticing the miserable state of mind I was in, remembered that if I could be kind to myself in this moment, I might be able to shift out of the contraction and worry into a state of mind that would allow me to resolve the dilemma of no internet. Breathing slowly and deeply, hand on my heart, I drew on the work of Kristin Neff, Ph.D. and Chris Germer, Ph.D., creators of the Mindful Self-Compassion protocol. I began to say these phrases:

May I be kind to myself in this moment.

May I accept this moment exactly as it is.

May I accept myself exactly as I am in this moment.

May I give myself al the compassion and courageous action I need.

After just two rounds of saying the phrases, I could feel the reactivity begin to shift. And with more openness came the realization: Wait a minute! I have internet at my office. Ten minutes away. And a phone, and lights, and heat. Ahhh

This protocol allows us to bring mindfulness and self-compassion practices together to interrupt the automaticity of our reactions to any experience, and simply bring kindness and acceptance in the present moment. We are able to create a spaciousness of presence, openness, interest and curiosity so that we can respond more skillfully in the next moment

Not that mindful self-compassion solves our problems. It doesn’t. But it does help create the spaciousness in our minds and then perhaps offer us a moment of gratitude for these practices that help us see more clearly and act more wisely.