We humans are so hard on ourselves.
I can’t claim to be perfect at this, and don’t always remember, but when I’m spinning out of control, I try to take some slow, deep breaths to regain my center, and follow these steps to switch off the hamster-wheel of anxiety, worry, blame, regret, self-recrimination.
It really is very simple.
Think of it as one of those flow-chart thingies:
- have I done everything in my power to clear this situation? [no/yes]
- if no – then DO IT
- if yes – there is NOTHING MORE TO BE DONE.
Literally, just stop. Work as hard as you can to LET IT GO.
- It's helpful with any contemplative practice to begin by focusing on the breath. Close your eyes, slow down, breathe as deeply as you can into the area around the heart. Feel the expansion. Notice where your breath might feel tight or restricted
- Breathing in and exhaling fully… when you begin to feel relaxation happen, allow the following phrases to arise in your mind: “May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful and at ease.”
- Repeat slowly and deliberately, staying connected to the feeling of wishing yourself happiness. If other thoughts show up, gently send them well-wishes and re-direct your attention back to the Metta phrases
- Continue for a few minutes or whatever time seems right for you
“Significantly, when we do metta practice, we begin by directing metta toward ourselves. This is the essential foundation for being able to offer genuine love to others. When we truly love ourselves, we want to take care of others, because that is what is most enriching, or nourishing, for us. When we have a genuine inner life, we are intimate with ourselves and intimate with others. The insight into our inner world allows us to connect to everything around us, so that we can see quite clearly the oneness of all that lives.” ~ Sharon Salzberg, “Facets of Metta”
Somehow, and often through the weird magic of social media, the perfect teaching always seems to appear just when I need it most – I count myself fortunate to have had the most awesome gurus, guides, and mentors over the course of many years, who have helped me build a strong connection to spirit and a sense of something beyond my small “self”. Today, there was a poem by the ever-inspiring Rumi, a 14th century Sufi mystic whose creations are so spot-on it’s hard to believe they weren’t written last week. I leave you with “The Guest House”. Much love and many blessings to you!
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
translated by Coleman Banks