Have you ever noticed how much easier it is to be kinder to other people than we might be towards ourselves? Sometimes kindness is in short supply. Sometimes it’s in the ouch of a rebuff or a lack of attunement from others, and sometimes it’s from the critical thoughts in our own minds. Either way, those are the times when our fundamental needs for security and understanding are not met.
Remember last week’s post – the mindfulness of hands? I wonder if we could use these amazing hands, so capable of care, creativity and compassion, and use them to help us to tap into a sense of kindness.
Cup your hands together, turning them to face you. Imagine that you are holding something extremely precious, so you are going to be tender and gentle; a rare fragile butterfly for example. This butterfly represents all the soreness of life; the complexities and richness of our emotional worlds. Whatever the type of pain, can you imagine just holding it; not crushing it or discarding it or avoiding it…just holding it, as if it were a wound that needed gentle care. Every wound needs attention. What does this wound need? What does the pain of the wound tell you matters in this life? It hurts for a good reason.
Can you imagine now filling the cup with whatever care the wound is needing – nurture, attunement, recognition, encouragement, acceptance, validation…you can fill in the blank. Can you imagine a sense of compassion washing over the pain? Here you are, in pain, suffering, doing the best you can with the resources you have available to you. Even if your mind tells you it’s not deserved or warranted, or it feels alien or unsafe – can you consider it as a possibility, that responding to emotional pain with empathy might in the long run be more workable than trying to push it away? SIt with this juxtaposition for a few minutes, just practicing holding and allowing the pain, whilst at the same time opening up to a sense of soothing towards it.
There are times when a practice like this can feel threatening; either because we find ourselves in circumstances where our threat systems are constantly activated by abuse or past trauma has left us with a fragmented sense of inner safety. If this rings true for you, then it does not mean that here is another thing (mindfulness) that you can’t get right. Your threat system is doing its job; trying to protect you. If you can, seek the support of a therapist or counsellor to support you, to gently and slowly develop a mindfulness practice.
Take good care.