If you’re like many people at this time of year, you probably dislike the looming end of your “summer vacation,” the fun and travel and your return to school, your job and your increased commute. You may also have your share of difficult or even painful experiences in the form of financial worries or feelings of guilt and shame because of your indulgences. While all of these experiences are both very reasonable and frequently lead to short term gratification or pain, they will not help you to experience an unshakable and enduring appreciation for life or lead to the root of cause of happiness.
As a reader of my blog, you’ve read about how research on self-compassion and mediation practices like Loving Kindness and R.A.I.N. can help you to effectively reduce your unpleasant or painful emotions and improve your well-being and health. Nonetheless, you may still struggle with the idea of being kind with yourself or prioritizing these practices into your busy life schedule. If this sounds like you, or you struggle with an addiction (i.e., smoking, binge eating and emotional eating, using the internet as a distraction) because you are unable to sit, and befriend your mind, expanding your perspective and seeing your mind as an infant who is learning to walk and eventually run will help to ease your pain. Just as you would never shout at a baby for stumbling and falling, remembering to shift your perspective will help you to cultivate patience, trust and faith in letting go of your ineffective strategies to control and avoid the pain and discomfort that you may experience in your life. Likewise, imagining that you are feeding an infant who does not sit still or is crying when you experience distress or are distracted will help you to shift your attitude and be patient, loving and even playful your mind.
If these gentle reminders do not seem to be enough to ease your pain, the traditional practice of giving and taking (i.e., Tonglen) as described by Pema Chödrön may offer you relief and help to open your heart to deepen your compassion in order to experience vitality and bliss. While Tonglen meditation may appear to be overwhelming as you envision breathing in the pain and suffering of other people, the simplest form to practice Tonglen “on the spot” is simply to repeat “other people feel this too” each time you experience an unpleasant or painful emotion (e.g., the pain in your body because you fell and bruised your hand, financial worry as you realize that you spent too much on your summer vacation). Similarly, each time you experience a pleasant feeling or have pleasure in your life, repeat “may other people experience and delight in this too.” As you practice consistently, Tonglen will help open your heart to deepen your compassion and ease your suffering. You will also experience peace and joy as you notice and become aware of your everyday simple pleasures in life (e.g., the sun’s warmth on your skin, the delicious taste of your favorite meal, the post office worker’s smile and help).
To your health,
To learn more about how working with a psychologist and holistic health coach can help you to enhance your health and well-being, call or email Dr. Sandoval to schedule a free consultation.
The information, published and/or made available through the www.drjosesandoval.com website, is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a physician-patient relationship. This blog is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information in this post for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. You should consult a physician in all matters relating to your health, particularly in respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention. Any action on the reader’s part in response to the information provided in this blog is at the reader’s discretion.