SUPPORTING YOUR PRACTICE
Last week A. (my co-facilitator) and I let you know that we will have a check-in each week with those of you who want to share your ongoing practice with any of our topics – self-compassion, meditation, mindfulness, and self-acceptance. We are putting this element right at the beginning of our sessions. Yesterday we spent the first hour on people checking in and talking about their efforts and struggles with these things. What seemed fitting for us to discuss in the second half was feelings of shame and a sense of unworthiness….
THE TRANCE OF UNWORTHINESS
One thing that seemed to be quite common to many of us yesterday was the difficulty of feeling compassion for ourselves. Many find it not too difficult to hold compassion for someone else but when it comes to ourselves there is no love there, only loathing and/or disappointment. Even if we lived up to expectations there was no satisfaction from it in the end so what’s the point? Yes! What is the point of meeting other people’s expectations if we are not satisfying ourselves in some real way? Isn’t that a betrayal of who we are and what is important to us?
I read some excerpts from Tara Brach’s Awakening The Trance of Unworthiness. Here is the link to her site where you can read the excerpts and more.
Carl Jung said (on Tara Brach’s site) that “We’re not trying to transcend or vanquish the difficult energies we consider wrong – the fear, shame, jealousy, anger – since this only creates a shadow that fuels our sense of deficiency. Rather, we’re learning to turn around and embrace life in all its realness – broken, messy, vivid, alive. This is the way out of trance: mindfully recognizing and bringing compassion to the parts of our being we have habitually ignored, pushed away, condemned.”
Brach says “While extremely painful, the trance of unworthiness and its energies of raw shame and fear is a portal to profound transformation. The first step is the realization that we are imprisoned in this trance.”
Someone mentioned yesterday that they didn’t always feel ‘up’ and that is what he’s striving for and wishing for. I realized afterwards that what he was really talking about was getting his needs met. When our most important needs are met to the degree that we feel comfortable, then we feel ‘up’. Others in the group talked about feeling depression and anxiety and again these are often signs that we are not getting something that we need.
When we notice we are feeling ‘down’, depressed, anxious, worried, sad it’s often a sign that we have an unmet need. Sometimes we can’t meet the need exactly, such as feeling the need for intimacy. If we do not have that kind of relationship with anyone yet we long for it how do we deal with that? Always self-compassion can step in and soothe us to some extent. Another thing we can do is look at the attached Needs List below from the Center for Non-Violent Communication (NVC). We may find that our loneliness translates to a need for connection, affection, support, belonging, care, communication and so on. From here we can see that there are more possibilities for us to feel less lonely. We can ask ourselves “Where can I get that connection, that support, a feeling of belonging, of being cared about?” and discover that possibly there is someone or somewhere that will give us some of what we need. We may not get intimacy but care, support and connection can go a long way to making us feel better.
The point is – it pays to be curious and investigate our feelings. When I meet my needs I am happier, more content, more at peace, more sociable (unless my need is to spend some time alone). When we figure out what we truly need (such as those on the Needs List) then we can figure out how we might meet that need. Have a look.
LOVING-KINDNESS (METTA) MEDITATION
This week we continue to focus on metta meditation and working with sending compassion towards ourselves. For some, they find it’s working a little. For others nothing. I reminded people that we are not striving to feel good when we practice metta meditation. We are focusing more on our intention and attitude. We are sending care towards ourselves. But if it is too difficult to start with ourselves we can choose someone else, or even a family pet, to send it too. That way we can get in touch with our ability to be compassionate, and waken it up. I believe that eventually everybody can get to self-compassion. It’s just not always an easy journey.
May you be safe
May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you live with ease