Take a seat in a quiet place where you feel particularly safe. Sit tall with your spine long, your shoulders relaxed, and your belly soft. Close your eyes or gaze low at the floor. Maintain a level chin for a neutral spine.
Breathe gently in an out through your nose. Release thoughts of the past or future, and turn your awareness toward the present moment. Notice the movement of breath through your body to help get grounded and settle further into your seat.
Take a few deep breaths, inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly.
Now I invite you to think about a situation in your life right now that is difficult for you.
Maybe you’re feeling stressed, or you’re having a relationship problem, or you’re worried about something that might happen.
So finding a situation and getting in touch with it,
what’s going on, what happened or what might happen,
who said what, really bring the situation to life in your mind’s eye.
Notice the suffering you are experiencing related to the situation.
Feel the suffering in your body.
We’re bringing mindful awareness to the fact that suffering is present,
and I’d invite you to find some language that speaks to you,
something like this is really hard right now or I’m really struggling.
We’re actually turning toward our difficulty, acknowledging it, naming it.
This is a moment of suffering.
Now remember that suffering is a part of the human experience.
Suffering is a part of life. All people on earth suffer.
We’re reminding ourselves of our common humanity.
Suffering is a part of life.
And again, finding language that speaks to you,
it may be something like it’s not abnormal to feel this way.
Many people are going through similar situations.
The degree of suffering may be different,
the flavor of suffering may be different,
but suffering is a part of life, part of being human.
Now ask, may I be kind to myself in this moment?
And to support bringing kindness to yourself,
I’d invite you to perhaps put your hands over your heart,
or some other place on your body that feels soothing and comforting,
feeling the warmth of your hands,
the gentle touch, letting those feelings of care stream through your fingers.
May I be kind to myself?
Use any language that supports this sense of kindness.
Now imagine you are with a good friend you care about who was going through a very similar situation.
How would you feel toward this freind?
How would you treat this friend? What would you say to them?
This freind, yourself, and all of humanity are worthy of love and compassion.
There is no separation or special cases.
Radiate love and compassion toward yourself and all of humanity.
Pause the meditation as long as you like.
Now you are letting go of the practice.
Notice how your body feels right now, allowing any sensations to be just as they are,
allowing yourself to be.
Please take out a sheet of paper and answer the following questions:
First, think about times when a close friend feels really bad about him or herself or is really struggling in some way. How would you respond to your friend in this situation (especially when you’re at your best)? Please write down what you typically do, what you say, and note the tone in which you typically talk to your friends.
Now think about times when you feel bad about yourself or are struggling. How do you typically respond to yourself in these situations? Please write down what you typically do, what you say, and note the tone in which you talk to yourself.
Did you notice a difference? If so, ask yourself why. What factors or fears come into play that lead you to treat yourself and others so differently?
Please write down how you think things might change if you responded to yourself in the same way you typically respond to a close friend when you’re suffering.
Why not try treating yourself like a good friend and see what happens?