Tag Archives: Buddha

Self-Compassion Saturday: The Beginning

i'm still standing

You, yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. ~Buddha

For just a minute, I am taking a deep breath and sinking into this moment. Eric is in the kitchen making pie crust — I’ve had a thing about pie lately, buying store made versions that claim to be Marionberry but aren’t quite, and he wanted to make me a “real pie.” Emeli Sandé is singing Next to Me, part of a mix I made myself on Rhapsody that I listen to while I write. Both dogs are asleep in their beds behind me. The window is open and I can hear the wind blowing, see the blue sky and bright green of my lilac bushes and the trees above. My hair is still wet from a shower, and I’m wearing clean soft cotton pjs and my favorite sweater.

*sigh*

I feel pretty content right now, in this moment. But I don’t always feel like this. I struggle, I suffer, I smash myself to bits. There are old, habitual ways of thinking and being that no longer serve me, and yet I still act them out, get stuck.

It came to me recently that at the heart of all of my issues, underneath every irritation or sadness was one thing. And when I realized what it was, I felt a deep longing, an intense hunger to understand, to heal, to transform that suffering, and I knew that I was connected to a tribe of wise and compassionate women who could help me, if only I was brave enough to ask.

pathgate

So I sent a request to them. It started like this,

Dear Beautiful You,

I said a prayer and took a deep breath before beginning this message to you. I am so worried it will come off like a creepy sales pitch or inappropriate request — it isn’t. This email, this request is an utterly authentic wish from the deepest part of my heart, an expression of my ongoing longing to ease suffering, in myself and in the world, and to be of service. It isn’t about my blog stats, building my own worth or value, or any other self-serving, self-fulfilling ego bullshit. This is not about little me, this is about Big Love. In fact, it would be so much easier for me to not do this, to not ask, but I feel compelled to, and as Ram Dass said, “We are all just walking each other home.”

I am writing to you with a tender heart full of longing. I am writing to YOU because you are a wise and compassionate teacher, writer, healer, artist. I am writing because I have big questions and I think you can help me answer them.

“How can I help the harm that has been done unravel itself? How can I help others find their own wisdom, kindness, and sense of humor?” (Pema Chödrön actually said that, but they are also my questions). As a writer and a teacher myself, the spark for the enclosed request came to me as these things always do: I was curious and confused, felt a hunger to understand something.

I was struggling and went to a new doctor to seek medical advice, to determine if the cause for my suffering were in my body. The help I was offered, the “answer” I was given didn’t sit right with me. In fact, every cell of my body said “that’s not it.” That very afternoon, I left for a meditation retreat led by my dear friend and teacher Susan Piver. In that safe and supportive space of contemplation the real answer, the true path, revealed itself: self-compassion.

Great! – and yet, what is that, how do I do that?! Having been in a long term abusive relationship with myself, I don’t know how to be in love, to be loving, to fully and completely accept myself. The momentary sadness of not knowing faded when I realized I knew many amazing, wise and compassionate women who have been my guides already in so many other ways – I could ask them.

So I ask you, humbly and with such gratitude and love, these four questions:

1. What does self-compassion mean, what is it? How would you describe or define it?

2. How did you learn self-compassion? Did you have a teacher, a guide, a path, a resource, a book, a moment of clarity or specific experience?

3. How do you practice self-compassion, what does that experience look like for you?

4. What do you still need to learn, to know, to understand? What is missing from your practice of self-compassion, what do you still struggle with?

As a writer and a teacher, part two of anything I learn is the strong desire to share it, the knowledge that if this is helpful to me there are others who also must need it. So my intention, my wish is to not only benefit myself from your answers, but to share them in two ways:

1. “Self-Compassion Saturday,” a once a week post on my blog that includes an introduction to your other good work, explains why I asked you specifically, gives your answers and link(s) to your work.

2. When all the answers I get have been posted, I’d like to collect them into a PDF ebook that can be downloaded by anyone for free – not a “follow my blog/sign up for my newsletter and get a free gift” thing, but a truly free gift to anyone who would benefit, an offering made from love.

mettaprayer
This is the plan, kind and gentle reader: one post each Saturday until they stop coming, (29 women have said “yes”), and then I’ll create an ebook including the whole collection that anyone can download for free. These women’s willingness to be a part of this project, their generosity and kindness, has left me gobsmacked, so full of love and gratitude. And each response that I’ve received so far to the four essential questions has been a gift filled with compassion and wisdom that I can’t wait to share with you.

First up, next Saturday, is Artist, Author, Actionista Mary Anne Radmacher, (I’ve written about her before). She had her responses to me less than 24 hours after I asked, and even answered three extra questions! It’s so good.

I must go now. I smell pie 🙂

Something Good

1. If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out: Poetry for Visionary Thinking. I have brilliant friends. This is the sort of thing they do when they follow their dreams, when they heed the call of their longing.

2. 3-year-old recites poem, “Litany” by Billy Collins. This kind of thing is an argument for reincarnation, divine nature, or something just as as brilliant and mysterious. Here’s a follow up story on NPR, Love Of Words Brings Child, Poet Together.

3. 17 Essays by Female Writers That Everyone Should Read on Flavorwire. I am working on it.

4. The question underneath every other question, another powerful post by Andrea Scher on Superhero Life.

5. More on what self-care, self-compassion looks like: Looking with Love by Alana Sheeren and Unraveling by Anne-Sophie Reinhardt.

6. Zen Pencils: Timothy Leary, “You aren’t like them.”

7. This quote, “Little by little, one travels far,” J.R.R. Tolkien. And similarly, “Our way to practice is one step at a time, one breath at a time,” Shunryu Suzuki.

8. One of my favorite quotes from William Gibson, “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.”

9. And this one, “If you subdue the hatred within, you will discover that there is not a single enemy left outside,” Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

10. C the G TV. Catherine Just only started the project last week, but already so many good interviews.

11. This is always a good reminder, “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it,” ~Rumi. This too, “I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.” ~Rumi.

12. 14 Days of Self-Love post by Rachel Cole. This project, hosted by Vivienne McMaster is all kinds of good stuff, good people.

13. Open, Generous, and Connected by Seth Godin. Yes, please.

14. The Willard Asylum Suitcases on Lisa Congdon’s blog. Heartbreaking, fascinating, and slightly creepy.

15. Free ebook: Living from the Heart: Volume 1 from Louise Gale, and many other brilliant souls.

16. A Leap of Faith from Sas Petherick. “I feel like I have gone from playing ping-pong with my bare hands, to using a smart red paddle.”

17. Want More Love In Your Life? by Thomas Dunleavy on Your Heart Makes a Difference.

18. Swap True for Original from Jennifer Louden.

19. More than one thing from the brilliant Alexandra Franzen, 5 ways to write a blow-your-mind manifesto and Want folks to act / click / share / buy now? Screw the sales pitch. Write a Love Letter.

20. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others…(BE Your OWN Love Valentine) from Kute Blackson. “To succeed at being somebody that you are not (but think you need to be) is still a failure.  But to love who you are and courageously be that fully is a life well lived.”

21. 5 Reasons to Simplify Your Life from The Spacious Life.

22. “Our sorrows and wounds are healed only when we touch them with compassion.” ~Buddha

23. “For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.” ~Carl Sagan

24. Oana Befort’s beautiful blog.

25. Safe & Sound Taylor Swift (ft.The Civil Wars) – Brittni Paiva ukulele cover. Beautiful music, beautiful instrument.

26. My beautiful, brilliant friend Jessica Patterson said this week, “whatever reminds you that you are whole, perfect, and holy…start there,” (to which I responded “stay there”).

27. “Our ‘originality’ is nothing more than our unique response to everyone we ever wanted to imitate or seduce.” ~Susie Bright

28. “Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.” ~Herman Hesse

29. your daily rock : live mindfully, on 37 Days which begins with this brilliant quote, “Mindfulness meditation doesn’t change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart’s capacity to accept life as it is.” ~Sylvia Boorstein

30. 15 Easy Ways to Beat Anxiety Now on Greatist, (originally shared by Positively Present Picks). I wish I would have more successfully applied some of this the past few days.

31. A Pebble for Your Pocket on A Design So Vast. Such a beautiful post, which Lindsey ends with the question “what is there to do but to keep my eyes open, to take a deep breath, to love this life of mine, in all its flawed, real, glittering beauty?”