A Radical Way to Practice Compassion
Tara Brach, one of the most beloved meditation teachers in the world, has just released her newest book Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and the World with the Practice of RAIN. It’s beautifully written and immensely helpful. (See adapted exercise in RAIN below)
And now Tara is offering a Radical Compassion Challenge through Sounds True, a free 10-day online event January 21-30, 2020, interviewing experts like Kristin Neff, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Dacher Keltner, Dan Siegel, Krista Tippett, Van Jones, and many more. Tara will offer teachings and guided meditations each day, and host the entire series.
You can watch Tara’s guided meditation on RAIN on blame here and practice an adaptation of the exercise below.
EXERCISE: R.A.I.N on Blame
1. Come into a sense of presence; let your senses be awake. Let go of any tension or tightness in your body. Open to sensations of aliveness inside of you.
2. Identify someone you care about but with whom you feel distance, conflict, tension.
3. Recall one particular incident that went awry with this person. Evoke the visual memory, the words expressed, the tone of voice expressing them.
4. Shift your attention to your own inner experience.
Recognize what is happening inside of you as you recall this incident. (Anger, blame, judgment)
Allow your feelings to be there. They are human, part of normal human experience. Let them be rather than ignoring or trying to fix. Let your attention deepen.
Spend some time noticing and inquiring into thoughts that bubble up around these feelings. “They don’t respect me…. They don’t care…. I’m not safe.”
Identify what’s the worst part of this experience: disturbing, hurtful. What longing didn’t get to happen?
Identify the felt sense in the body of this experience. The felt sense is the essence of this experience. Express this felt sense in posture and facial expressions.
Focus on the most difficult part of this entire experience. Identify: what is the unmet need? To feel cared about, respected, important, understood, appreciated, safe?
Call on your wiser, loving self, your witnessing self. (Notice the change in posture and facial expressions as you shift.)
Let your wiser self offer to your inner vulnerable self exactly what is nourishing, comforting, soothing to that part of you. (Placing your hand on your heart to evoke the felt sense of loving presence and comfort.)
Bring to mind someone who knows you and loves you. (This step is very similar to the Compassionate Friend exercise in the Mindful Self-Compassion protocol.) Receive the understanding, protection, and care of this compassionate friend.
5. Notice any shifts within yourself from doing this R.A.I.N. practice. Notice any deeper sense of presence, any more spaciousness of heart.
Recall the other person to whom you felt distant, in conflict, tension. Imagine the wiser self looking at the image of this other person. Can you recognize what might be happening in them? Anger, disappointment, fear?
Allow and accept that what the other person is experiencing is what they are experiencing. They are a human being, too.
Bring attention and empathy to what you imagine the other person is feeling, is believing about themselves. Empathize with what their unmet need might be: to be respected, cared about, loved, appreciated, safe?
Feel your own compassion for their vulnerable inner self. See their basic goodness, the gold that shines through when they are not caught in fear or shame. Include them in your own caring heart. Imagine how they would behave if they felt safe, loved, accepted.
6. Notice any shifts in your sense of your own self as you free yourself from blame of another. Rest in the heart space than can love one’s self and an other. If true, acknowledge any sense of true acceptance and belonging.
7. Imagine a new way of responding to this other person the next time you meet.