By Joan Marlow —
These past few months have been different and difficult. Living in a pandemic has offered lots of lessons. I’ve heard things like, ‘getting comfortable with being uncomfortable,’ ‘seeing that I truly have no control over anything, except myself,’’ I love my family, but it’s tough being with them 24/7 for multiple weeks.’
The other things I heard from folks isolating with family members was that they learned to walk away from a heated situation; if they did say something unkind, they quickly apologized because there was nowhere to run to; they let little things roll off their backs, which during normal times would have caused a reaction. In other words, these lessons are teaching us compassion. Compassion literally means ‘to suffer together.’ That certainly sums up our current state. This virus doesn’t discriminate; it isn’t infecting ‘just’ any one or two sectors of the population. We truly were and are all in this together.
That’s all well and good, but it still doesn’t take away your loneliness from not seeing your friends, not being able to do sports, not having a graduation ceremony, not being publicly acknowledged for sports or academic achievement, possibly being separated from a parent or your extended family because it was decided that it was safer to stay in one household. Our lives were disrupted in many ways and we truly had to accept it. Your thought might be, ‘It is what it is, but I don’t have to like it….’
That’s true. Here’s a way you can take this experience and create something positive that’ll be able to support you when other disruptions in life happen, and we know they will. I’m talking about implementing acts of self-compassion…being kind to yourself. You might find it easy to be kind to others when they’re hurting, now let’s be kind to ourselves. One way to do that is by using a piece of the Loving Kindness meditation (LKM), which is a self-care technique to reduce stress, stop the negative self-talk in your head, and neutralize anger. This practice increases your capacity for forgiveness, connection to others, self-acceptance, and more…perfect prescription for this time.
LKM offers a means to generate kind intentions to others as well as yourself. Here’s a simple and effective LKM technique to try:
- Choose some quiet time for yourself (even a few minutes) and sit comfortably. Close your eyes, relax your muscles, and take a few deep breaths.
- Imagine yourself experiencing complete physical and emotional wellness and inner peace. Imagine feeling perfect love for yourself, thanking yourself for all that you are, knowing that you are just right—just as you are. Focus on this feeling of inner peace while you breathe…breathing out tension and breathing in feelings of love.
- Repeat 3 or 4 positive, reassuring phrases to yourself…some examples…create your own
- May I be happy
- May I be safe
- May I be healthy, peaceful and strong
- May I be grateful for all I have
- May I experience joy
- May I have the power to accept and forgive
- As you repeat the phrases, you’ll sense a warmth coming over you and running through you. Bask in that feeling.
Practice this meditation often. It calms your mind and relaxes your body. It’s a technique you can call upon whenever you feel that you aren’t being heard, feeling lonely, experiencing frustration, feeling you’re going to react negatively; it’s an all-purpose tool to bring positiveness into your world.
This is one part of the meditation and probably the most important part because you can’t be there for others or love others without first loving yourself. There are other parts of the meditation by simply changing ‘I’ to ‘you’ that then offers support to others in your life: someone you love, someone you might have difficulty with, someone you might know only in passing, and more. May you be happy; May you be safe; etc..
To learn more: https://positivepsychology.com/loving-kindness-meditation/ Includes 4 scripts.