Self Compassion is about giving yourself a break from beating yourself up over the situation you find yourself. It’s about stopping and acknowledging that where you are now is tough, and you are hurting. It’s self-nurturing and understanding that you can give yourself the gift of love and compassion, just like someone would give you. We can often beat ourselves up about the divorce, about how we are handling it, about not moving on or not moving on fast enough, about being too mad, too sad or just about any emotion associated with divorce.
“When we give ourselves compassion, the tight knot of negative self-judgement starts to dissolve, replaced by a feeling of peaceful, connected acceptance- a sparkling diamond that emerges from the coal”.
Kristin Neff, PHD. Self Compassion- Stop Beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind.
Meditation is a wonderful tool that can be used to visualise your own suffering and turn that into self compassion. It is wonderful when accompanied by breathing in an essential oil- I like using “breathe” or peppermint in particular because I can feel the aroma travel through my nasal passages and it helps me visualise this aroma as “white light” for healing. It is useful to have ylang ylang or rose and rub it on your chest where your heart is.
Extracted from handout given to Katische at Chenrezig Buddhist Institute and added to from ‘How to Meditate’ by Kathleen McDonald.
Sometimes it is hard to start practising self compassion. We are so used to feeling compassion for others that it feels strange and unnatural to focus inwards and give ourselves love. If this is where you are at now, don’t beat yourself up, start with this meditation and practise compassion for others, and then eventually you can flip the switch and meditate on compassion for yourself.
Sit comfortably. Relax your body and mind and let all thoughts and worries subside. Mindfully observe your breath until you are calm and your awareness is focused in the here-and-now.
Think that you are doing this meditation for the benefit of yourself and others: to generate more positive, loving energy in your mind and send it out to others, to the world.
Start by watching the breath and releasing all thoughts as much as possible. Then visualize your nearest family, parents, brothers and sisters and your partner, sitting on your right hand side, like you in meditation posture and smiling at you. You feel extremely happy to see them, and now you also add those who may have passed away, and they too smile at you. It is a very intimate loving group, and you feel closely connected to all of them. From your heart you send them pure white light energy and you think very strongly:
May you all be well. May you be happy. May you never experience suffering. Now on your left hand side you assemble all your close friends, some of whom may have passed away, but now they are all sitting with you in meditation, and you are delighted to see them and feel closely connected to them. You know all their problems, have shared good and bad times with them, and now you wish them well, feeling loving kindness towards all of them and from your heart you send them pure white light. May they be happy and well, may they never experience any suffering.
To your back now you imagine a few strangers sitting with you. Maybe a bank clerk or someone you have seen on TV, or passed in the street. You know nothing about their life, but you know they want the same thing you want, that is to be happy. You smile at them and they return your smile. They are touched by the pure white light energy from your heart. May they also be well and happy, may they never experience any suffering.
Feeling happy and calm you now assemble one or two enemies in front of you, maybe people who have wronged you or insulted or even just irritated you. You gaze at their faces and in your heart you realise that they too only want happiness, just like you. You smile at them; all your differences dissolve as loving kindness streams from your heart. As they return your smile you feel wonderfully refreshed and energised. All your anger and frustration evaporate. May they too be well and happy, may nothing cause them suffering.
Now you also invite your neighbours, those you know and all those you have never met. They sit in a circle around you, smiling and returning your good wishes for them: May they be well and happy, may they not experience suffering. You extend this circle by inviting all people living in your town, then everyone in Australia, and eventually the five continents. A huge crowd is assembling now, and even though many things divide you superficially, all of them you know want happiness. You feel wonderfully connected with them through the white light of loving kindness from your heart, and you make the strong wish that they too be happy and well.
And then you invite all the animals and beings from other realms and the many parallel universes, their lives unimaginable. But they too want to be happy and this wish unites all of the beings surrounding you now. Sending out pure white light from your heart you strongly wish: May everyone be well and happy!
The white light energy is returned from all the beings surrounding you, it contracts into your heart and turns into an indestructible drop of pure white light energy of loving kindness, around which your heart closes like a secret treasure to be accessed at any time.
Now all beings gradually dissolve into emptiness, and you remain, feeling calm and blissful. You think: may this meditation clear my mind of all negativity. May all beings be well and happy without exception.
Tonglen is a fantastic meditation for generating compassion for difficult situations that you may find yourself in, and for gaining an understanding of others.
You can do a Tonglen meditation alongside Pema Chodron here:
Preparation: Sit comfortably and relax your body. Relax your mind by letting go of or putting aside any other thought that might be in your mind- of the past or future, people, activities. Decide to keep your attention focused on the meditation, and to bring it back any time it wanders away.
Motivation: When your mind has settled down in the present. Generate a positive motivation for doing the meditation. The most positive motivation is wishing to benefit others. So open your heart to others, with the understanding that they wish to be happy and free of suffering just as you do. Think that you are going to do this meditation in order to work on your own mind- decreasing the self-centred and negative aspects of the mind and developing the positive aspects of the mind, so that you can become more and more able to be of benefit to other beings.
Bring to mind a problem that you currently have in your life. Allow yourself to feel the pain, the discomfort of the problem. See if you can notice how your mind does not like the problem and wants to push it away, to get rid of it.
Then think ‘I am not the only person experiencing a problem like this. There are many others’. Think of other people who may be experiencing the same or a similar problem, you may actually know some people who have the same problem, or you can use your imagination to think of others, around the world. Also you can probably think of some people who have this problem to an ever-greater degree than yourself. (For example, if you have lost a loved one, think of people who have lost many loved ones, such as in a war or in a famine).
Then generate compassion, thinking: ‘How wonderful it would be if all those people could be free from their suffering’. Because you have your own first-hand, direct experience of this problem, you are in a good position to be able to understand and empathize with what they are experiencing. So generate as strong and purely as you can the compassionate wish for them to be free.
Then decide that you will accept or take on your own experience of this problem, in order that all those other people could be free from theirs. The simplest way to do this is to reverse the attitude that wants to push the problem away- ‘I don’t want this problem’- and to voluntarily accept it, with the thought, ‘by my accepting and experiencing this problem, may all those other people be free from theirs. I will experience this problem on behalf of them’. Contemplate that…
If you wish, and are comfortable to do so, you can also do the following visualisation of taking on the suffering of other people. First imagine your self-cherishing attitude (the selfish attitude of caring more for yourself than others) in your heart, in the form of a solid, dark spot or a big, dark rock. Then you imagine the suffering of others coming out of their bodies in the form of dark smoke or fog. It comes into your heart and absorbs into the self-cherishing attitude and destroys it.
Following that, imagine that all of your goodness- good qualities, positive energy, happiness, etc., in the form of a radiant sphere of light, or a wish fulfilling jewel, in your heart. Visualise rays of light emanating from this light or jewel, going to all the people whose suffering you just took away. The light rays transform into whatever they need to be happy- food for those who are hungry, money for those who are poor, homes for those who are homeless, friends for those who are lonely, courage and strength for those who are frightened and helpless, and so on. Feel that you are really giving them what they need, and that they become happy and satisfied, all their needs and wishes fulfilled… you can also imagine sending them spiritual teachers who teach them the path, and help them to progress along the path all the way to enlightenment.
Spend as much time as you wish doing this visualisation and contemplation. Feel joy in what you are doing- taking away other’s suffering and giving them happiness. Even if its just on the level of imagination, it is still extremely beneficial, to purify your own mind, and to cultivate loving-kindness, compassion and other positive qualities. In this way you help yourself to become more beneficial for others now, and bring yourself closer to enlightenment, at which time you can be of the greatest benefit to all beings.
Dedication: Conclude your meditation by dedicating the merit or positive energy that you have created. Remember the motivation you had at the beginning- wishing to benefit others and dedicate the meditation that it will be the cause for them to be free from suffering, to enjoy greater peace and happiness, and to quickly reach their highest potential, the perfect state of enlightenment.
If you would like to purchase essential oils for your compassion meditation practise, please fill out the form below and I will contact you.