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Day Two Take Home Message from Workshop

My Day 2 Take Home Messages from the Mindful Self-Compassion Workshop

I entered the second day of the Mindful Self-Compassion workshop feeling pretty fresh and eager to learn more, which I think is a good indication that the program is going well. Today was focused on introducing to us the difference between expressing loving-kindness and compassion. The former being focused on expressing good will (to ourselves and others), and the latter focused on wishing a removal of suffering (to ourselves and others). I found the compassionate focus quite moving, and it really dawned on me how every person has their unique struggles in life. This was a bit of an ‘aha’ moment for me actually – and as a result was my key take home message from day two. I guess it just really struck me that I often don’t consider how little I know about the people around me. I mean I know my family very well and the same goes for my friends, but in terms of my colleagues at work, and the people I meet doing day-to-day things (for example when shopping), well I know very little about them and sometimes nothing at all. Yet I just assume they must be going along all OK.

When I take a moment and realise that every human has their own internal struggles they are facing (clearly on a continuum and ever changing), I start to notice my attitude towards people ‘softens’. I am in a less of a rush, time doesn’t seem to be as important, and I am very keen to say ‘thank you’ or ask that person I am with in that moment ‘how has your day been?’ I am also more motivated to give that person my full attention. For example, during our break I went and grabbed a coffee from one of the local café’s. Whilst at the café I was much more aware (mindful) of just how busy the staff were having to work to make sure everyone was getting their order and receiving their meals and drinks in an efficient manner. Typically I am focused on getting my coffee and getting out, often implicitly judging whether the café is good or bad based on how quickly they get my coffee to me. This time when ordering my coffee I took a moment to make eye-contact with the waiter, I made my order, and found myself offering this person – who I don’t know – a silent mantra of “I wish you a day of ease”. By doing so I noticed I was smiling, and this evoked a smile back from the waiter. I thanked the waiter and offered a final, “hope the rest of the day goes smoothly for you”. Now I don’t know if that will make a huge difference in the day of that waiter, who knows they may have thought I was a little weird for smiling at them. But for me the interaction between us was calm, pleasant, and easy. And one of my real values in life is to try and adopt a more calm and relaxing attitude in my interactions with others. And this interaction was evidence of me leading in alignment with that value, which resulted in me feeling a genuine moment of happiness.

I often find my ‘inner critic’ can give me a real beating when I have a ‘bad’ interaction – so when I have a disagreement or argument with somebody. After one of these ‘bad’ interactions I find I spend quite a bit of time and energy analysing what I said and how I said it – how was the tone of my voice, what were my non-verbals, were my arms crossed, did I get angry. All of these thoughts are quite draining, and even hours after the interaction when I am doing something completely different, the thought will just pop back in my head, “oh yeah you were rude today”, and than that sinking feeling enters my body, and I start to feel like a bit of a failure. So after today’s session my aim is to be more mindful of when this happens, and realise that this is a moment of suffering for myself. And rather than continue to beat myself up about it, try to adopt a more self-compassionate mindset. So perhaps something like “May I be forgiving of myself. May I be more accepting.. May I be warm in my interactions..” I have a feeling that his shift in perspective might help ease some of the suffering I experience, and also help motivate me to be more calm, open, and warm in my next interactions.

Bring on day three.