MINDFULNESS BREATHING PRACTICES HELP US FEEL OUR WHOLENESS
What we feel when we breathe is different than what we think about ourselves. Breathing gets us in touch with our wholeness; our thoughts and our mind often is in charge of finding our “brokenness”. What’s wrong? What needs to be fixed? These questions take us off and running…when what we really want to do is slow down and feel what is here in this present moment. Mindfulness is noticing everything about who we are in this moment and even more about what we haven’t noticed before. As Walt Whitman states in his famous poem Song of Myself: “I am large, I contain multitudes.”
When we slow down and breathe deeply we notice … our softness, our feelings, our quiet self. Just this first step of slowing down and paying attention is an act of LOVE. We are giving ourselves loving attention and curiosity —the opposite of what we often give ourselves each moment of our busied days in this frantic world—pushing ourselves beyond who are are to some ideal we think we should be? So, slowing down enough to find comfort, a blanket if you will, to hold yourself in is what mindfulness is all about.
The purpose of mindfulness is to develop a loving relationship with yourself that you can maintain throughout your life. Why? Because if you don’t know how to be your own best friend, you are victim to life’s torments that will toss and turn you upside down. Before you know it, you feel tormented. Yes, that is what life is all about …. life is constantly offering you choices of how you want to meet the next moment. We cannot change our history, but we can change how we meet this present moment. That’s why a blanket of love is a great tool for finding your way through… to staying balanced, resilient and hopefully healing your brokenness.
SELF-COMPASSION JUMP STARTS OUR HEALING
Mindful Self-Compassion Practices, like Loving Kindness Practice, jump start your healing by getting you into your body and feeling your basic goodness that’s already there. Another practice is Soothing Touch, or a caring and soothing way you hold or touch your body, can also get you in touch with your softer you. These practices bypass your mind and get you feeling things more in your heart space. Who doesn’t want to be in a loving heart space more in our lives? Actually, the research on these practices shows us that they help us shift our bodies out of fight/flight reactions and into the parasympathetic nervous system or the relaxation response we need to create healing from pain and trauma deep inside our bodies. In addition, research on self-compassion practices shows they are more helpful in helping us make productive changes in our lives than self-critical or self-judging messages.
DAILY SELF-COMPASSION CHANGES OUR BRAINS AND OUR WORLD
Sometimes we don’t know how to shift ourselves out of the stress reactions we find ourselves in each and everyday. Fight/Flight reactions come from anger, fear, terror, distress, disconnection, isolation, judgment, criticism, or anything that brings you to a nervous system overload. In order to slowly allow the nervous system to release and over time, to allow new patterns to develop, we must counteract these trauma reactions. Bringing in comfort, calm and peacefulness to our system can help us do this. A daily practice of bringing in calm to our system can create healing and allow us to feel what is actually always available in our lives like joy and beauty and gratitude. Kristen Neff, Ph.D in her book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, says “by giving ourselves unconditional kindness and comfort while embracing the human experience, difficult as it is, we avoid destructive patterns of fear, negativity and isolation”.
I like to think of Self-Compassion as the most important tool for transforming our world. The three elements of self-compassion: Mindfulness, Common Humanity or Connection, and Kindness are the key elements to bringing us into a deeper connection with ourselves, each other and our planet. Coming out of 2 years of Covid, and the impact of isolation, fear and trauma, I can see that we need more tools for helping us get more connected to our hearts and feel our capacity for loving each other and ourselves.
Come to my Spring Mini-Retreat (March 31-April 1) and follow up Self-Compassion Practice Circle (April 15th) and learn how to wrap yourself more deeply in a blanket of love, for yourself and for the future of our planet.