Re-membering Who We Are

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When starting each gathering in my “Mindfulness as a Path to Self-Compassion” course, I did something VERY different.  I centered us with a piece of music I curated to go along with the theme of the day.  

As we come to our third week in the course, and as this Self-Compassion series comes to its third week of blogging, I invite you to listen to the song: Sam Smith’s “Love me More”.

SO much can pull us away from our True Self. At any given moment life can feel overwhelming. We start to think we aren’t good enough, haven’t done enough, or are just so tired that we can’t go on and we get emotionally low.  But that Authentic Self is still there, it’s in us, and it always will be.

But how do we find it?  How can we reconnect?  How can we *Re-Member (more on this below) who we truly are, as loving, kind, awake to the world, open to beauty and wonder?

So, I invite you dear reader to take a breath first.  Center.  And instead, let my list of what can pull us away from our True Self elicit a compassionate response, one that just wants to say to you and every person, “Wow, you are going through a lot and I support you. How can I love you more (thanks Sam Smith)?”

  • physical pain
  • thoughts (stories)  **Sam Smith sings in today’s song about “it used to burn, every insult, every word”
  • emotions —***Sam Smith says in our song today, “so I sat with sorrow and eventually it set me free”
  • our conditionings
  • generational trauma
  • upbringing (parents, care givers, teachers, coaches, who we were around, etc.)
  • what we were taught and/or what was exemplified (see above ‘upbringing’)
  • societal impressions
  • cultural impressions
  • spirituality groups / impressions 
 

Take another breath dear reader.  We dove in fast in this blog.  We just went deep and brought up so much.  And, your Divine Self (True Self, Innate Goodness, and all the names I am using in this blog that represent the Same thing) has space to hold it all, to be with it all, to acknowledge it all. This is You!  

“Each person is born with an unencumbered spot – free of expectation and greed, free of ambition and embarrassment, free of fear and worry – an umbilical spot of grace where we were each first touched by God. It is this spot of grace that issues peace. Psychologist call this spot the Psyche, theologians call it the Soul, Jung calls it the Seat of Unconscious, Hindu Masters call it Atman, Buddhists call it Dharma, Rilke calls it Inwardness, Sufis call it Qalb, and Jesus calls it the Center of our Love.

To know this spot of Inwardness is to know who we are, not by surface markers of identity, not by where we work or what we wear or how we like to be addressed, but by feeling our place in relation to the Infinite and by inhabiting it.”-Mark Nepo, ‘The Book of Awakening’

How can we remember this when there are so many things that can pull us from that spot of grace within us?
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That is why mindfulness can sometimes be one of the most challenging practices within our lives. Because we are practicing to cross that vast, choppy, tumultuous, and rough sea of our mind with attention and compassion. Waves of thoughts and emotions come over us like a tsunami and wash us away from our True Self. And that is when self-compassion can bring us back to our Innate Goodness.

So much can cause us to forget our True Self, our True Nature that is innately good. 

Tara brach calls this the “Trans of Unworthiness”.  Remember last week’s blog about what blocks us from self-compassion?  Read it HERE. It also shares the 5 misconceptions about self-compassion; that it is a sign of weakness, selfishness, self-pity, that it makes us complacent, and that we will become self-absorbed.

So much can affect the way we think and feel towards ourselves. And, we can affect those same thoughts and feelings by paying kind attention.  Self-compassion lessens the suffering that we experience in any situation.

So, as you begin to offer your kind attention to your own thoughts and emotions, body and spirit, remember to offer kind attention/ loving attention/ without judgment.  This is the practice of self-compassion.

Use this math equation from Kristin Neff to help you:

suffering=pain x resistance (or worry)

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Tara Brach reminds us that “In order to unfold, self-compassion depends on honest, direct contact with our own vulnerability.” When we look at the math equation above, we see how the level of our worry and/or resistance to our experience and circumstances are, the more suffering we cause.  We cannot help whatever painful circumstance has happened, but we can help our response to it. (I talked about the difference between pain and suffering in THIS self-compassion blog.)

This is exactly why mindfulness and that awareness with compassion, when turned towards our self (self-compassion) is SO needed.  Because when we practice being that person to ourselves that asks “how can I help?” and we can be that person to our self that says, “I know that hurt and I am so sorry”, or “Hey, this is not your fault”, then we can begin to acknowledge our Self, see our Self, speak and act towards our Self, in the ways in which we need in order to heal, to grow, and to no longer see our self as someone who is ‘bad’, ‘broken’, ‘unworthy’, ‘unloveable’, and ‘not deserving (of love)’.  

Self-forgiveness towards ourselves for not knowing otherwise yet, for reacting, for unintentional harmful causation of our words or actions on others…self-compassion supports us in taking action to mend whatever has been torn or hurt.  

Self-compassion is a balm and medicine.
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Self-compassion opens us up to be able to look at all parts of ourselves with kindness, even those parts of ourselves that we might not like or that are hurting. It can actually bring us to finding what exactly it is within us that is hurting and then offer it space; to offer acknowledgment to it without judging it.  

This is integrative practice; healing into our wholeness and Re-Membering our Innate Self.

This is our ability to practice the “suffering together” that is self-compassion.  To have our hurting heart, hurting body, or troubled mind, meet that “umbilical spot of grace” (thank you Mark Nepo, above) that is unconditionally caring; they are both pieces of our self.  This is self-compassion, not self-pity/ not a sign of weakness/ it’s not complacency/ nor self-absorption/ not self-esteem/ and it’s not straight up selfishness.  No, this is knowing our shared humanity instead of isolating ourself from life, and even from our own kind and loving heart. 

“…  Common humanity involves recognizing the shared human experience, understanding that all humans fail and make mistakes, and that all people lead imperfect lives. Rather than feeling isolated by one’s imperfection—egocentrically feeling as if “I” am the only one who has failed or suffers—the self-compassionate person takes a broader and more connected perspective with regard to personal shortcomings and individual difficulties.   …   

Unfortunately, when we struggle, we are more likely than ever to feel separate and alone. This is because our field of perception narrows when we feel under threat and it is hard to see beyond ourselves. We may further isolate ourselves in embarrassment or shame, as if we were solely responsible for our misfortune.”-Pittman McGehee, Christopher Germer, and Kristin Neff Upload Article

Follow that quote with this one from Brene Brown:

“Shame is the fear of disconnection—it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection. Here’s the definition of shame that emerged from my research: Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love, belonging, and connection.”― Brené Brown, Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts.

And back to Kristin Neff:

“However, when we are self-compassionate, we actually feel more connected to others in our awareness of shared human suffering and imperfection—we ourselves as a thread in a very large cloth.”Pittman McGehee, Christopher Germer, and Kristin Neff Upload Article

I was reminded recently of those USWeekly magazines, tabloid magazines, and the sections that show celebrities doing “everyday things.” The headline is “Celebrities are Just Like Us”!  The pictures are of them getting Coffee at Starbucks, pumping gas at the gas station, or traveling with their kids in an airport.  

I love these magazine pages because my brain immediately goes to the fact that they (celebrities) crap and poop too. 😉

That they have probably experienced a cold or flu, maybe food poisoning.  They have probably experienced grief and loss, or anger and rage.  For me, knowing they crap too makes me feel strangely more connected to them and for me to feel more connected to all people on a common level in which we are all with each other, and less separate. Common humanity, shared humanity.  Silly, perhaps, but true for me, teehee.

This is how we *Re-Member ourselves; maybe not always thinking of poop, lol, but rather….. How we remember that we are a part of a larger and greater whole of life, a beautiful and intricate web.  

This is how we remember that we are already, and have ALWAYS been, a member in the beautiful flow of life!  And, we do not need a membership pass, we don’t need to pay any kind of dues, and we are never expected to meet certain requirements to be a member.

YOU ARE A MEMBER IN THE VAST GOODNESS OF LIFE, NO MATTER WHAT!  

So, Re-Member yourself through self-compassion.  

And, don’t fret if you feel you have succumbed to the “trance of unworthiness”, re-Member your Innate Goodness and Place of Belonging within all of life 

  • Through self-compassion.  
  • Through Re-Membering our common humanity. (You are NOT alone.  Most likely, someone else has gone through this too, or something similar.)
  • Through mindfully moving your body.  
  • Through speaking supportive and kind words to yourself (mantras+affirmations).  
  • Through little acts of kindness towards yourself (even if it is going to the bathroom and not holding it, or getting the water when you are thirsty, or saying no/yes/or let me get back to you). 
  • Through your spiritual practices.  
  • Through rituals; as small as brushing your teeth, or larger like meditating to your Heart.
  • By placing your hand on your heart (or other embodied practices).
  • And even by just saying, “My intention right now is self-compassion”.

Now, read Mary Oliver’s poem, “Wild Geese.”  She does such an excellent job of reminding us…

Wild Geese | Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.

Standing with you in the family of all things,

Shawna

Breathe and Believe.