Resources for Recovering Resilience: One for You…One for Me

I’ve just completed a week-long teacher training in Mindful Self-Compassion with Christopher Germer (The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion), Kristen Neff (Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself) and Michelle Becker and Steve Hickman, both of U.C. San Diego’s Center for Mindfulness.

Now I plan to offer the 8-week course to San Francisco Bay Area participants September 11 – October 30, 2014. (For more information, see the Mindful Self-Compassion page.)

Here’s one of my favorite exercises from the training, useful when you need to stay grounded in your own center when hearing someone else’s distress or pain. It helps to practice in your imagination so that the practice feels natural and comfortable when you are listening to another person in real time.

  1. Sit comfortably and take a few deep, relaxing breaths. Allow yourself to feel the sensation of breathing in…and breathing out. Notice how your breath nourishes your body as you inhale, and soothes your body as you exhale. If you like, you can rest your hand on your heart center as a reminder to bring not just awareness, but loving awareness, to your experience and to yourself.
  2. Focus your attention on your in-breath for a few rounds, saying softly to yourself, “nourishing…nourishing.” Then focus your attention on your out-breath for a few rounds, saying softly to yourself, “soothing….soothing.”
  3. Then call to mind someone to whom you would like to send warmth and goodwill, either someone you love or someone who is struggling and needs compassion. Visualize that person clearly in your mind.
  4. Feel your body breathing both in and out, breathing for yourself and breathing for the other. Begin to say softly to yourself as you breathe in and out, “nourishing me…nourishing you…” And “soothing me….soothing you.” As the rhythm of breathing in and out becomes steady, you can say softly to yourself, simply “one for me…one for you. Feel the compassion flowing for yourself, and for the other person.
  5. The next time you are listening to a child, friend, colleague who is experiencing some distress, discomfort, or painful feelings, anchor your awareness in your breathing as you listen. You can say softly to yourself as your listen, “Nourishing me….nourishing you; soothing me…soothing you.” And eventually, “One for me…one for you.” The awareness of respectful and caring breathing helps you stay centered in the nourishing and soothing of breathing, even as you listen to – and care deeply about – someone else’s suffering in the moment.

I’ll be teaching “One for You…One for Me” and other practices of self-compassion at Spirit Rock Meditation Center on Saturday, June 21, 2014. The slide set for the daylong will be available from my website a few days after the event.