The next time you find yourself in a bad mood, take a moment to pause and ask yourself, “What is my attitude toward myself right now? Am I relating to myself with judgment… or with mindfulness, warmth, and respect?”
Typically, you’ll find that when you’re anxious, lonely, or depressed, you’re also down on yourself in some way, and that undercurrent of feeling deficient or unworthy is what’s keeping you cut off from your own aliveness, as well as your feeling of connection with others.
The way of healing and homecoming begins with what I call “a gesture of kindness.” You might for instance put your hand on your heart—letting the touch be tender—and send a message inwardly. It might be “It’s okay, sweetheart.” Or “I care about this suffering.” Or, “I’m sorry and I love you.” Often, it’s simply, “This, too.”
Sometimes, this gesture of kindness includes saying “yes” to whatever’s going on—the yes meaning, “This is what’s happening, it’s how life is right now… it’s okay.”
If you’re really down on yourself, you can also say “Forgiven, forgiven.” Not because there’s something wrong to forgive, but because there’s some judgment to let go of.
As you offer yourself this gesture of kindness, take some moments to stay with yourself, to keep yourself company. Allow whatever most wants attention to surface, and sense that you are the loving presence that can include and embrace whatever’s arising.
Then, see if you can widen your attention, and notice what or who else is floating in your heart space. Perhaps you’ll intentionally offer a gesture of kindness to a friend who’s struggling with disappointment, a family member dealing with illness, or a teen caught in self-doubt.
As you continue to practice offering yourself and others this gesture of kindness, you will discover that this response to life becomes increasingly spontaneous and natural. In time, you’ll recognize it as the most authentic expression of who you are.
© Tara Brach, Labor Day Weekend, 2013
Enjoy this short talk on Trusting Your Basic Goodness (Part 1)
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