Gavin Thomas Murphy runs a website called Gratitude In All Things where he looks to Ignatian Spirituality for strength and inspiration.
“You need a strong back and a soft front.” – Tara Brach
I’ve been meditating for years, but I realise the outcome is not always warm and compassionate. I am sometimes like a person who is hitting his head with stones. The story of Jesus and the man with the demons comes to mind.
My inner critic says, “Keep your back straight, put on a serious face, listen to your breathing, and be tough”.
However, a Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) course at the Mindfulness Centre is helping to broaden my understanding of the common human struggle of heart. Significantly, it is offering a way to soften my front through practices such as the Self-Compassion Break.
This practice enables me to take a few minutes to engage in my stress or suffering with the three steps of mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness. I found it helpful during a difficult moment at work.
The first step involved acknowledging the difficulty: “This is a moment of stress”. I also acknowledged my feeling and the physical sensation of knots in my stomach.
The second step involved saying to myself “Stress is part of life” and “This is normal”. I joined with millions of people who were experiencing stress at that moment, which helped to broaden my perspective.
For the third step I said, “May I be kind to myself. May I give myself what I need”. I responded with an anchoring exercise which included placing my feet firmly on the ground and concentrating on deep breathing.
Having a strong back and a soft front is like the man who is freed from wrestling with his demons. I can imagine him sitting by the lake with Jesus, well-dressed and in his right mind.
I hope we may all get in touch with our inner compassion at this time. As the Buddhists say, “May all beings be happy and free from suffering”.