This week, we formally explore how to cultivate loving-kindness for ourselves and others (i.e., a sense of friendliness, kindness). In this technique we deliberately ignite positive feelings, and then sustain them mindfully for longer and longer periods. Informally, we'll be practicing compassion for ourselves and others (i.e., the wish to be free from suffering) by working with anger and writing a self-compassionate letter.
This meditation is a very popular self-care technique that can be used to increase well-being and reduce stress. Most mindfulness techniques involve working with what is present (e.g., paying attention to the breath). In this technique, you'll be asked to generate positive feelings and use them as the object of meditation.
Kindly write your impressions in the Practice Log (you'll notice that it's a little bit different this week, since it includes more "free choices").
Letting Go of Anger Through Compassion
This informal exercise invites you to send compassion to others. You can repeat this exercise each time you find yourself ruminating on an experience when someone hurt you.
1. Find a quiet place to sit. Relax for 2 minutes, breathing in and out naturally. During each exhale, focus on the word “relax.” Keep your arms, legs, and body still.
2. Identify a time in the past when another person hurt or offended you.
3. For the next 2 minutes, think of the offender as a human being who behaved badly. Even if the relationship cannot be restored, try to genuinely wish that this person experiences something positive or healing. Even though it may be hard, focus your thoughts and feelings on giving compassion. Be consciously aware of the thoughts, feelings, and physical responses you have as you cultivate compassion and kindness for this person.
If you find it appropriate, use the Practice Log.
This informal exercise invites you to send compassion towards yourself. Try to do this practice once this week.
First, identify something about yourself that makes you feel bad. It could be something related to your personality, behavior, abilities, relationships, or any other part of your life.
Once you identify something, write it down and describe how it makes you feel. Try to be as honest as possible.
The next step is to write a letter to yourself expressing compassion, understanding, and acceptance for the part of yourself that you dislike.
As you write, follow these guidelines:
1. Imagine that there is someone who loves and accepts you unconditionally for who you are. What would that person say to you about this part of yourself?
2. Remind yourself that everyone has things about themselves that they don’t like, and that no one is without flaws. Think about how many other people in the world are struggling with the same thing that you’re struggling with.
3. Consider the ways in which events that have happened in your life, the family environment you grew up in, or even your genes may have contributed to this negative aspect of yourself.
4. In a compassionate way, ask yourself whether there are things that you could do to improve or better cope with this negative aspect. Focus on how constructive changes could make you feel happier, healthier, or more fulfilled, and avoid judging yourself.
5. After writing the letter, put it down for a little while. Then come back to it later and read it again. It may be especially helpful to read it whenever you’re feeling bad about this aspect of yourself, as a reminder to be more self-compassionate.
Ready for your last week? Go to week 8!
Please send us your completed Practice Log (subject line "MBSR week 7") if you need the Certificate of Completion.
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