First of all, why would we even need compassion for ourselves? Don’t we only need compassion when we are going through a very difficult time in life or are experiencing horrible physical pain?
Yes, compassion is needed in those situations, but those are only the extremes. Why not offer ourselves compassion with any kind of suffering.? You are suffering when you resist what is present in every moment. You are suffering when you are waiting in line and you get angry or irritated. You are suffering when you are sitting in traffic and feel antsy and trapped. In these cases, we direct our anger at the person or car in front of us. We may also get angry at ourselves for not being patient. But the anger at ourselves for feeling this way is just more suffering.
Why not offer compassion to yourself? Compassion is defined as: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
- When you are waiting in line (or whatever is happening that is causing you distress) and you find yourself annoyed, frustrated, irritated--take a moment and breathe.
- Acknowledge you are feeling this way. Tell yourself it is okay. We all feel this way at one point or another.
- Consider who else may be feeling the same way--next to you in line, the next car over, or someone far away from you across the world. In every moment, there are many who are feeling exactly how you are. This moment of your suffering is an opportunity to connect with these people--it shows you are not alone.
- Now, imagine you can literally step out of your body and watch yourself. As your “observer,” notice how you are feeling and what you are experiencing. Just watch and observe without judgement. Everything that is happening right now….is OK.
- Next, offer compassion to yourself as you would if you were offering it to someone else. It’s just an intent, a sending of loving energy. Take a few moments to do this. Don’t rush, take your time.
- Now, offer this energy, love and caring to the others you connected with above who are experiencing suffering like you are.
- Once it feels right, imagine stepping back into your body. Let yourself really feel the blanket of compassion. Breathe it in through your whole body. Take as much compassion as you need, as there will always be plenty available from your observer.