My Day 3 Take Home Messages from the Mindful Self-Compassion Workshop
So today I woke up feeling very tired, and I wanted to keep sleeping rather than wake up and drive to the workshop. I also started to contemplate, “I wonder if there is a limit to the amount of self-compassion I can have, am I reaching my limits?” When I had that thought I immediately realised I never question whether I have enough resources available to be self-critical – that comes naturally and seems never ending. Anyway, I didn’t have enough time to ‘think’ about that thought any longer as I had to get ready and rush through my morning routine so that I wouldn’t be too late for the workshop, and that annoyed me slighting. I ended up being 5-10 minutes late. This elevated my annoyance further and made me frustrated, fortunately for me though we did a meditation as soon as I arrived; indeed, this is how we start all our mornings. However, this was the first meditation I had done in the morning where I had started off frustrated. At this stage I don’t think I should be surprised, but the meditation went great, and I was able to return to my breathing, and this brought calmness and contentment. And to be honest that is exactly what I needed to do at that point.
Thinking back now, I don’t know what I was overly worried about in regards to being late, I mean I was at a mindful self-compassion workshop, it was highly unlikely the others at the workshop or the facilitators would get angry at me for being late. Then I realised it wasn’t really about that for me, it was more about the fact I am often told, “you are always late for everything”. It makes me feel like perhaps I have failed some basic life skill, or that I am unreliable, not trustworthy. As a result, when I am late for meetings, appointments, dinners, or work I immediately go to that thinking mind of “I have failed, again”. Not a great way to start a meeting or your day for that matter. Taking the time to do a short meditation offering myself some self-compassion, such as, “May I be forgiving of myself” and “May I accept myself for who I am”, really helped bring me back to the present moment instead of being caught up in my mind.
Today we focused on a number of things, such as acceptance, tolerance, building our mindfulness skills, but the key take home message for me was about listening. Today I was able to complete an exercise where my one job was just to listen for 5 minutes to another person speaking about a minor struggle they had faced in the past, and then the role would be reciprocated. Initially I thought to myself there is no way I would be able to speak for 5 minutes about a past minor struggle. Some of my friends and family would laugh at that previous sentence, but today in the workshop I truly believed there was no way I could speak for 5 minutes about a past minor struggle. My minor struggle was about breaking my wrist in my senior year of high school, which meant I couldn’t play rugby or row in the final regatta of the year. When it was my turn to speak I didn’t even finish what I wanted to say – and that surprised me. The thing that I really noticed about the exercise was when the other person was ‘just listening’ to me it gave me the freedom and space to explore the issue I was talking about. It was quite a powerful experience. Then it was my turn to listen, I didn’t expect to have any ‘light bulb’ moments during this part, but I was shocked. When listening my only job was to listen, not ask questions, provide suggestions or advice to resolve the persons problem. And when I took on that listening role I found that the most powerful moment of the day. To be able to listen without having to ‘solve’ the person’s problem really took the pressure off, and allowed me to actually stay with what the person was saying and really listen to their struggle. And I realised that by doing so I gave the other person the freedom and space they needed to talk openly. I am looking at doing more of this with my friends and family. Something so simple, but powerful.
Looking forward to day 4.
Extra note: the photo is one I took today at Byron Bay beach.