Everyday I hear clients or friends struggling with how to cope in our current climate of divisiveness and intense sound bites and social media flashes.   Because we want to make changes, to have a voice, we aren’t bowing out and putting our heads in the sand, but it’s very tempting, right?  

What are our choices about how to stay engaged to create the changes we want, to participate in our democracy and our lives fully, when it is so tumultuous?  What a perfect opportunity  to learn how to manage waves of conflict and change in our lives from inside ourselves.

Learning to create an internal presence of open-heartedness, love and compassion is very possible in the worst of circumstances. If we cannot stay open, present and engaged we cannot be effective in accomplishing anything — from raising our kids, balancing our checkbook,  driving our car, grocery shopping, etc.   It is actually the fact that we are not staying present that things go out of balance and we lose our focus and intentions. We get going too fast and spin out.   But how do we stay balanced and focused with so much coming at us each and every day?

Major life transition job loss or retirement I believe this is actually the only way to manage in a difficult environment.  The key is learning to cultivate open-hearted presence, or a connection from your heart that is warm, connected and compassionate that brings comfort to yourself and others.  It is about generating a feeling coming up from your heart that says, “You are ok, I love you and I’m here for you.”  This is the voice of your inner compassionate self.

There are many spiritual teachings that help us find this approach.  I encourage you to find a spiritual practice that can help you learn how to stay balanced and grounded within yourself. I practice mindfulness daily and would be happy to support your practice. I find there is such an overlap between psychological approaches and research and spiritual practices and they all lead to the same goal: A loving connected presence for yourself and others.

From my secular training in mindfulness and self-compassion from the Center for Mindfulness in San Diego and others, I have learned how to cultivate this open-hearted presence daily through practices that take me out of fight-flight responses and into a warm heart-opening presence with myself and others.  I want to share one with you now.  Use this at anytime that you feel stressed, angry, struggling with painful feelings or situations that cause you discomfort and struggle.

The Self Compassion Break

Step 1:  Place your hands over your heart or another place that feels comforting.  This brings in soothing touch and helps you start to calm yourself.  Say to yourself, “I am  struggling,  This is painful”

This is the step we call Mindfulness – noticing that you are in a challenging place and having some difficult feelings coming up.

Step 2:  Say to yourself:  “I am human, this can happen to anyone.” or  This is the step that recognizes you’re basic goodness as a person and that you are connected to all humans together.

Step 3:  Keeping your hands over your heart, say to yourself,  “I deserve kindness”   I will try to be kind to myself right now”   Breathing this message in and letting yourself feel what might feel like something kind right now.  

This third step is where you might need to practice.  Sometimes, we don’t know how to be kind to ourselves when we haven’t done it before.  If you are having some challenges with this, you are not alone.  Learning how to be gentle and turn kindness and compassion inwards is something we as women often have to practice, because we are taught to give compassion out to others mostly.

Keep your heart tender so you can bring compassion to all that arises. 
—Jack Kornfield

If you would like to learn more about self-compassion and how it can help you stay more grounded, happy and calm, please sign up for my next Mindful Self Compassion Women’s Group starting in March-April 2020.