You may want to still your mind to experience calmness and peace in your life and believe that meditation is your answer. You may also believe that mindfulness meditation is about learning to train your mind to be empty of thoughts. While some of these are elements of any mindfulness practice, you will not experience long lasting peace or comfort in your life if you do not also cultivate a loving heart.
Mindfulness meditation and self-compassion are intimately connected. You may believe and struggle with the idea of learning to be kind and loving yourself because you feel that it is selfish. As you deepen your practice of mindfulness meditation and have more conscious awareness of the thoughts and feelings in your mind, it is crucial that you simultaneously make the attitudinal shift to be gentle and deepen your own self-compassion.
One practice that can help you is to use R.A.I.N. R.A.I.N. is a traditional acronym used by many mindfulness meditation teachers such as psychologist, author and teacher Jack Kornfield. Like rain that indiscriminately and gently touches all things it falls upon, mindfulness is about learning to be curious and cultivating your capacity to hold all of your experiences non-judgmentally with curiosity, openness, kindness and love. You are learning to befriend and not struggle with you mind.
- Recognize: As your mindfulness practice grows, the first step is to simply recognize and be aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that surface in your mind. Simply notice without elaborating.
- Accept. Without judging your experiences, learn to simply allow the stories in your mind to unfold and embrace your own vulnerability. Like countless other people who have lived, the pain or discomfort that you experience is part of your humanity and the human experience. Self-judgment or criticism will only add to your pain and lead to your suffering.
- Investigate: As you notice your mind’s many experiences and simply hold them in your awareness, investigate and learn to see beyond your fleeting thoughts and feelings to examine how the stories or feelings manifest in your body. Is the experience part of some story that you are clinging to tightly as part of your identity? Does it extend to your relationships with the people who you love? Where else have you experienced the thoughts or feelings?
- Non-identification: Perhaps the most challenging and important step is to learn to not take what your mind tells your personally. As you learn to consciously hold your mind’s constant chit chatter, you may believe and feel like many people that your private experiences define you. However, as your mindfulness practice grows and you learn to cultivate self-compassion, you will also deepen your awareness and become the observer behind all of your experiences. Simply noticing your experiences and cultivating self-compassion will allow you to act with a wise heart so that you do not take your experiences personally.
As with any skill, R.A.I.N. is a tool that without consistent practice will not take you very far.
To your health and success,
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.