Lovingkindness: Better By Monday

“The willingness to love is not yet love.” –Carrie Marill

The Pali word Metta means “lovingkindness.” Ms. Marrill instructs us to deepen our understanding of using Metta as a way to assess ourselves in a type of meditation process which creates more self-acceptance.

We can look at ourselves through our mind while we sit quietly. The visual experience in our own mind of how we look, how we act, and how we appraise ourselves is powerful.  In a Metta practice, we use the time to self-reflect. We don’t dwell on only the desirable traits, and we don’t let the negative qualities linger either. We stay open to our total sense of self through all of our memories.

Meditation in this way isn’t about having an empty mind. This is having a mind full of everything that is us. We show up honestly, center stage, in our mind.  We use lovingkindness to see all of our parts, good and bad, as they flow into the mind. This is also known as practicing resilience.

Without practicing kindness towards ourselves, we will never master it. Watching the parade of thoughts, beliefs, and history of your life on your mental stage makes you an observer of your experience. The ability to observe yourself and with kindness accept your limitations, honor your mistakes and acknowledge where you used or needed your strengths is resilient.

The process of seeing your choices unfold without judging them can help you reset your self-critical button to low. It can also help you manage any over-inflated ego such as, only acknowledging your strengths, or never accounting for your limits. The practice of observing self can become the habit of self-awareness. Self-awareness with lovingkindness becomes self-acceptance.

Wolin and Wolin developed a mandala with seven resiliencies as a way to provide, “… a mirror in which you can find reflections of a resilient self.”  They suggest that we can frame our story around themes of resilience rather than childhood damage. That we can have our memories and feel proud in the worst of them and safe with all of them.

One Thing to Do: Use one of the Seven Resiliencies as a way to look at yourself with lovingkindness through a guided Metta practice. Remember that meditation can happen in more than one way. It can be a quiet moment of self-reflection.

The Seven Resiliencies by Steven Wolin, M.D. & Sybil Wolin, Ph.D. www.projectresilience.com

We have used the word “resiliencies” to describe clusters of strength that are mobilized in the struggle with hardship. Each of these seven resiliencies develops in phases, taking different forms in children, adolescents, and adults. Our vocabulary of strengths includes seven resiliencies which are as follows:

Wolin MandalaInsight – asking tough questions and giving honest answers.

Independence – distancing emotionally and physically from the trouble in one’s life.

Relationships – making fulfilling connections to other people.

Initiative – taking charge of problems.

Creativity – using imagination and expressing oneself in art forms.

Humor – finding the comic in the tragic.

Morality – acting on the basis of an informed conscience.

 

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling

Dawna Daigneault

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

 

The Chase: Better by Monday

” Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing. I would choose pain.”

– William Faulkner

I heard a joke when I was in Elementary School about some kids going to an old, abandoned, and dangerous castle. They had to travel across fields and over the moat, through the dark and winding hallways, down the steep and narrow stairs, to get into the basement dungeon. More searching ensued through darker hallways with doors needing unlocking, until the last and biggest iron door with multiple locks and chains was standing between you and the prize inside. The door opens, and the most horrible, ferocious, kid eating monster lurches towards you. You run. You have to run all the way back through all the doors, down every hallway, up all the stairs, and over the moat to get out into the fields where the monster finally catches up with you. He then says, “Tag you’re it.”

I found this joke entertaining, and I remember retelling it to many patient friends and siblings.  The joke came to my mind after I listened to a client explain how her pain seemed to chase her through her life. Once we processed through what her pain was trying to tell her, she exclaimed, “Where have you been the past twenty years!?” (I took this as a statement of relief)

The metaphor of being chased by pain fits many different client narratives. The client will feel their pain get-the-jump on them, from out of nowhere, then the client will retreat or run from it but never seem to get far enough away because the pain finds them again. The pain seems bigger and scarier when it becomes a chase scene which seems inescapable.

I am not going to complete the story by saying that once your pain catches up, it simply wants a game of tag.  If that were the case, we would all play with our pain instead of running from it. I believe something more poetic is happening.The chase is about the pain racing to rejoin the other aspects of you that are acceptable.

The pain has been neglected, abandoned, or rejected by our misunderstanding. When we reject part of our story, we have something (a part of us) we believe is not worth sharing. That belief can grow into a fear of being unworthy.

It is a returning to self, not a pursuing of you, occurring.  If you turn and see it, listen to it, let it cry or complain, and accept it back into your life story the chase ends and new chapters of your story begin. This is practicing self-compassion.

One Thing to Do: Turn towards your pain through writing. If you have a place to record your hurt, angry, afraid, or desperate feelings, you are giving them importance. They are no longer a discarded part of your past – they can become a valued part of your life story.

Even if you don’t like every part of your story, you can love the person it’s about.

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Eds, LPC

Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.

Zest of Life, LLC. Professional Counseling.