Self Compassion

Life can be richer, sweeter, bolder… even more peaceful
— Meganwind Eoyang

 

The other day during a practice group in Oakland, I examined why my jaw has been feeling tight lately.  I realized I had been living with a low-grade anxiety.  Remembering my NVC skills, I decided to see if I was willing to allow myself to be present with my anxious feelings.  Yes, I was willing.

So without trying to make the fear go away or change, I sat with it.  First came a strong wave of worry and I felt as if I were being swept away.  Then the wave continued on its way past me, beyond my skin, and I was left in a place of peace.  Yes, I said to myself, I can allow myself to feel what I really feel without resistance or aversion, rather bringing to bear curiosity, attention and respect.

Like waves of grief, waves of fear come and go.  I can try (fruitlessly) to hold back the tide, or I can allow myself to stay awake to what is there, fully feel it, and let it go.  Needs?  Health, security, understanding.  And as I opened to these needs, my chest expanded and warmed.  Now there was more room for life, to feel anything and everything else.  I experienced self compassion bringing more space for aliveness.

Almost daily, there are stories in the news, and words and actions out in my world which stimulate concern.  I both want to be present to what is going on, and to return to a place of inner peace and balance.  Self empathy is the path I can take between the two.  Sometimes I cannot identify the particular stimulus for this moment’s discomfort, but I can notice that some part of my body is contracted.  This is also a signal to allow myself to spend a few seconds or minutes feeling what is alive in me so it doesn’t nudge with increasing intensity and discomfort when being ignored.

I ran across a poem by Larry Robinson that captures elements of perspective and inner peace which helps anchor me in difficult times.  I share it in case you, too, might find comfort in his words:

 

Rise and Fall
   – Larry Robinson

 

Let go of fear

and rest in that which is.

For peace, like love,

comes to those who allow it.

 

Let go of fear

and rest in stillness.

Watch the breath rise…

and fall.

 

Watch the tide rise…

and fall.

Watch towers rise…

and fall.

 

Watch walls rise…

and fall.

Watch statues rise…

and fall.

 

Watch empires rise…

and fall.

Watch the breath rise…

and fall.

 

Let go of fear

and rest in the arms

of the One

who has always held you,

the One who holds

atoms and empires

and oceans and stars.

 

Let go of fear

and watch what happens next.

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