This powerful exercise from my Depth Therapy Blog can be done daily to increase self-compassion.
”You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” – Buddha
It is common to want to get rid of our pain instead of turning toward it with self-compassion. How do we care for the younger, hurting parts of ourselves? How do we love what hurts - especially when our emotions feel so young, painful and inconvenient to our adult mind?
Below, I share an effective self-compassion meditation that is inspired by psychologist Dr. Kathy McGuire and was originated by Peter Campbell and Ed McMahon, founders of the Biospiritual Focusing movement:
"The parts or aspects of ourselves that most need our own caring inner attention are often parts that we have most wanted or needed to ignore, push down, turn away from - often feeling that leaving these parts behind is really the only way to survive. So, now, to turn toward and embrace these very aspects of the self? Very difficult - a life-long task."
~ Kathy McGuire
1. Take a moment to find a comfortable sitting position and close your eyes. Notice your breathing going in and out, and sense into the part of your body that is hurting the most. A sore or constricted part of your body might be loudly calling for your loving attention. Place your hand and breath there for one minute.
2. And now, imagine that you work in a hospital, and a baby or a child has been left on the hospital steps. The child is crying. Let yourself feel the impact of finding this abandoned child. In your imagination, pick up this infant or child, and convey to it, through your body and your heart, and your way of tenderly holding it, that it is safe, and that it is truly loved and wanted in this world.
3. Noticing what you do to convey your loving attention to this abandoned child, turn your attention toward the hurting place in your body. Convey this same loving attention, without words toward your body, for one minute.
4. To amplify your nurturing attention, bring to mind the times in your life when you felt loved and valued in a similar way. Look into your memory for particular places, people, animals or situations where you felt completely loved and completely wanted. Bask in the warmth of this loving memory for one to three minutes.
5. Choose one of these places, people, animals or situations to stand as such a symbol of this kind of love and safety. Use this memory as an anchor or a talisman to amplify your self-compassion. You can call this amplified kindness your "Inner Nurturer." Hold onto this sense of yourself as an "Inner Nurturer" for one to three minutes.
6. Now, look through your life and memories to see if you can find a part of yourself that is now, or was very much in need of your Inner Nurturer. It could be an Inner Child at a certain age or time of life. But it could also be a kind of image: like "a wounded animal" or "a butterfly with a crumpled wing." Be open to the intuitive image that your wounded self wants to give to you.
7. Go back to the pain or tension in your body. We could call this place in your body your "Inner Woundedness." Join the image that your wounded self gave you with the sore place in your body. This is where your unhealed hurt lives inside of you
8. Now, imagine turning your Inner Nurturer toward your Inner Woundedness for one to three minutes. Tenderly say, to your hurt, from your Inner Nurturer, "I am here with you now. I know you are hurting. You are not alone. I love you. You are safe with me." Hold nurturing attention to your "Inner Woundedness" for one to three minutes.
Come back into the room and open your eyes when you are ready.