“You need a strong back and a soft front.” – Tara Brach
I’ve been meditating for years, but I realise the outcome is not always warm and compassionate. I am sometimes like a person who is hitting his head with stones. My inner critic says, “Keep your back straight, put on a serious face, listen to your breathing, and be tough”.
However, a Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) course at the Mindfulness Centre is helping to broaden my understanding of the common human struggle of heart. Significantly, it is offering a way to soften my front through practices such as the Self-Compassion Break.
This practice enables me to take a few minutes to engage in my stress or suffering with the three steps of mindfulness, common humanity and self-kindness. I found it helpful during a difficult moment at work.
The first step involved acknowledging the difficulty: “This is a moment of stress”. I also acknowledged my feeling and the physical sensation of knots in my stomach.
The second step involved saying to myself “Stress is part of life” and “This is normal”. I joined with millions of people who were experiencing stress at that moment, which helped to broaden my perspective.
For the third step I said, “May I be kind to myself. May I give myself what I need”. I responded with an anchoring exercise which included placing my feet firmly on the ground and concentrating on deep breathing.
Having a strong back and a soft front is like a man who is freed from wrestling with his demons. I can imagine him sitting by a lake, well-dressed and in his right mind.
I hope we may all get in touch with our inner compassion at this time. As the Buddhists say, “May all beings be happy and free from suffering”.