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Linda Graham

Linda Graham, MFT, is an experienced psychotherapist and meditation teacher who integrates modern neuroscience, mindfulness practices and relational psychology in her nationwide trainings. She is the author of Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being and posts monthly e-newsletters on Healing and Awakening into Aliveness and Wholeness archived at www.lindagraham-mft.net.

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The Essentials of Mindful Self-Compassion

August 2018 by Linda Graham, MFT

When a recent storm blew through the Bay Area, it knocked out a transformer on my block: no electricity, no lights, no heat, no refrigerator, no stove, no phone, no internet for 36 hours. 

I coped fairly well until the morning when I wanted to re-connect with my world. I noticed I was beginning to have a mini-meltdown; so many projects to create, send, track.  I could feel the bodily contraction into frustration and worry, noticed the pacing, sensed I was close to hair pulling and nail-biting.

As I walked through my kitchen, my eye caught a magnet on my refrigerator, given to me by someone in the Mindful Self-Compassion class I teach with Jane Baraz. It was a beautiful photo of a lotus blossom with the words, “May I give myself the compassion I need.” 

I paused, came into the practice of noticing the miserable state of mind I was in, remembered that if I could be kind to myself in this moment, I might be able to shift out of the contraction and worry into a state of mind that would allow me to resolve the dilemma of no internet.  Breathing slowly and deeply, hand on my heart, I drew on the work of Kristin Neff, Ph.D. and Chris Germer, Ph.D., creators of the Mindful Self-Compassion protocol.   I began to say these phrases:

May I be kind to myself in this moment.

May I accept this moment exactly as it is.

May I accept myself exactly as I am in this moment.

May I give myself al the compassion and courageous action I need.

After just two rounds of saying the phrases, I could feel the reactivity begin to shift. And with more openness came the realization: Wait a minute!  I have internet at my office.  Ten minutes away.  And a phone, and lights, and heat.  Ahhh

This protocol allows us to bring mindfulness and self-compassion practices together to interrupt the automaticity of our reactions to any experience, and simply bring kindness and acceptance in the present moment. We are able to create a spaciousness of presence, openness, interest and curiosity so that we can respond more skillfully in the next moment 

Not that mindful self-compassion solves our problems. It doesn’t. But it does help create the spaciousness in our minds and then perhaps offer us a moment of gratitude for these practices that help us see more clearly and act more wisely.

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