I am so grateful for the Mindful Self Compassion Training and Teacher Training that I took recently and particularly the recommendation to soften, soothe and allow strong feelings and the places in the body that one holds strong emotions.
My good friend recently died and this has really taken me to a place of sadness, grief and deep mourning. We hadn’t seen each other much in the recent past but had been very close during University and in the years following.
With Mindful Self Compassion Training as co-founded by Kristin Neff PhD and Christopher Germer PhD, and the ‘soften, soothe, allow’ exercise, one is instructed to get comfortable and notice the places in the body where strong or intense feelings of suffering are held, identify what the emotions are, breathe into these areas to consciously with love and awareness notice and soften the physical body, then give yourself soothing touch of some kind, either stroking your arm or softly patting your heart area or gently touching your cheek and finally saying soothing words of comfort to yourself, something that would be a sense of ‘allowing’ or ‘explaining’ those tough feelings.
How this exercise played out for me is that I located the pain of grief behind my right shoulder blade (this surprised me) and the pain of sadness in my heart. I sent thoughts of warmth and kind tenderness to these specific areas of my body and imagined the muscles and tendons softening and loosening, like I was receiving a skilled and gentle massage and my heart feeling whole rather than broken. I became very teary and with my tears I was able to let go of some of the pain and tightness and allow thoughts of compassion and gratitude and acknowledgment that life is really tough, that many people experience grief, that wow ‘is this ever hard. imagine how tough it is for others’. For myself, once I join with the sense of the shared humanity of grief, my personal grief lessens and my compassion increases.
If this is an exercise you would like to try for yourself, Kristin Neff offers it through the Insight Timer App, under Meditations that are 15 – 20 mins long.
If you are interested in exploring the Mindful Self Compassion Training further, feel free to check out the Training Page on my site for a unique retreat being offered in Mexico in February 2019 or contact me about the 8 Week Training being held in South Delta in the New Year 2019.