Breathing in Bravery

As the election approaches and the eyes of the world are fixed on America, tension is building here at home.  When was the last time you slowed down, checked in with yourself, listened to your own troubled heart, worried brain, and stressed out body, and asked yourself, “What do I need right now?”  That’s the quintessential Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) question, approached from the perspective of:  (1) mindfulness – noticing your own struggle or difficulty without ruminating on or over-identifying with it; (2) common humanity – remembering that you are not alone – others are feeling the same way as you right now; and (3) leaning into the activity of compassion (always a verb!) – offering yourself what you need in response.

Do you remember that the “fierce” side of self-compassion – the energy and power that comes from a caring and courageous heart – is also something you can offer yourself?  Over the last few years, Kristin Neff, the co-creator of MSC, has been exploring the ways to call upon the “mother bear” side of self-compassion – that inner warrior who can protect, provide, motivate!  Try it now, if you’d like.  Coming home into your body, experiencing what it’s like to be alive and human (just like this!), and enjoying and savoring a few nourishing in-breaths, feeling into the vitality drawn in with each breath.  When you’re ready, honoring that inner warrior by tending to them, too:  letting each of those already-nourishing in-breaths bring in some extra courage, strength, bravery, equanimity, and resolve.  And there’s no scarcity to this reserve of fierce-hearted energy – go ahead, take in as much as you need!  When your cup is full, allowing each out-breath to move that warrior of yours out into the world. 

There’s an infinite well of courageous love all around you can also tap into when needed:  the endurance and stability of the ground under your feet, the flexibility and steadiness of the trees sheltering you all around, the teaming and rhythmic life-force of the ocean, the vast spaciousness and patience of the sky – they all have more than enough energy to share – as does our meditation community here, the compassion cultivated by all our friends and community/sangha siblings.  All these are reminding you – together, we are strong; together we can get through; together we are resilient – WE (the big WE of team humanity) have been here before.

So what do you need right now?  Go ahead, breathe that in.