Mindful of Someone Else’s Pain

Mindful compassion or empathy begins with self-compassion. I had many role models in my life who were the most compassionate people you could ever meet. They taught me not to be so hard on myself sometimes when things got rough. It is not easy to send yourself positive and compassionate messages when you truly feel culpable about something. When a dear friend committed suicide I felt I should have been more observant of the signs. It took me a long time to realize that there probably was nothing I could have done. I did not know about mindful compassion then but one of my teachers had this innate ability to make us see things about ourselves that we had never seen.
It takes a lot of practice to get into the rhythm of mindful compassion and self compassion. This mindset was developed by Dr. Kristin Neff. The idea is to learn to “offer yourself peace of mind” when something in your life goes wrong.
We must understand the pain and overcome the effects. We must learn to forgive ourselves before we can forgive others. Mindful compassion develops awareness. We put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. But we must also be careful not to be compassionate on auto pilot. I know caregivers that put themselves first and forget their own needs. When a caregiver burns out it becomes a difficult situation for everyone involved. There has to be a healthy balance.
The tangles in the drawing kind of illustrate how unbalance locks us into a place where we can no longer help another successfully.
Some Steps to Take:
  1. Save some compassion for yourself first.
  2. Ask yourself about what your goals are for helping someone.
  3. Remember that self-compassion and self-care are basic to mindfulness.
  4. Take a break for yourself when caring for others
  5. Be clear on your purpose for being compassionate.

 

 

The Mindfulness of Poetry

This is an excerpt from a poem by Emily Dickinson:

 

“There is a solitude of space

A solitude of sea

A solitude of death, but these

Society shall be”

 

Reading poetry helps me relax. Some poetry helps me to focus on things that matter to me. Poetry matters to me because for me poetry is life and life is poetry. I remember reading Dickinson’s poem in high school – “There is a solitude of space” and wondering not only about its meaning but I focused on the concept of solitude. Some people cannot stand the idea of being alone or in solitude. They fear solitude.

I looked up the definition of solitude and the one that struck me was: “absence of human activity”. When we become more mindful we may seek to find a place that is absent of human activity. But is it necessary to be alone to be mindful?

I would love to know what you think.

 

 

Mindful Excerpts from Great Poems

As we start the celebration of National Poetry Month, I go back to read my favorite poems. I read them aloud to myself mostly or to anyone who will listen. I select excerpts from what I consider to be the great poems. I will share the excerpts with you and hopefully some of you will react to them in the comments section.

From Shakespeare – St. Crispin’s Day Speech

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
I think about some of my classmates just out of high school who served in the armed forces and never came back home. we must be mindful of all those who sacrifice so that we may be free.
You may have seen Renaissance Man with Danny Devito who plays a teacher assigned to a group of soldiers.  “While on duty, on a dare from Cass in front of other men, one of the soldiers recites the St. Crispin’s Day Speech by King Henry V while in full combat gear in the middle of a rainstorm during a night exercise.”

Mindful Pondering

“In this very breath that we take now lies the secret that all great teachers try to tell us.”

                                                                – Peter Matthiessen

Spotlight on your breathing:

  • It is important to focus on your breathing every chance you get to be still
  • Find a quiet stop and take deep cleansing breaths
  • Be mindful of the moment
  • You may want to select something to be the focal point
  • Focus and notice the inhale and exhale cycles
  • You may want to count your breaths
  • Conclude your breathing session with an affirmation
  • Write down your thoughts about the experience and note the levels of calmness

 

 

 

Mindful Questioning

“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structures of reality.” – Albert Einstein

I love a good question. I loved it especially when the questions were posed by my students. I always told my students that no question is silly, stupid, or a waste of time. We had a question board with the headline “QUESTIONING MAY BE THE ANSWER”. I had several pockets on the board with various categories. For example one group was “absolutely must know”. Those were usually the most challenging questions. The students wanted to stump me at times. But I made it clear that there were questions I would have to research to give them an correct response and a responsible one at that. But I also told them that sometimes a question would bring lots of controversy.

Some questions were very mindful as well. The questions were thoughtful and many times very profound. This is what I call mindful questioning. It is the question that was based on careful observation of something. It was the question that needed careful analysis and deep thought.

My students knew that those questions would make me very proud. I would praise those students by giving them a certificate that proclaimed them as thinkers. That made them proud.

I miss that activity very much. I try to propose a mindful question every day for my own mindful thinking experience.  I learned recently that this type of exercise helps your brain stay sharp because the process helps to learn something new.

Since I do not have a captive audience anymore I thought I might ask the readers of this blog to send me a mindful question. I will not promise to research every question myself but I hope that the questions I post will stimulate a conversation.

Do you have a mindful question? Please post your question in the comments section.

Happy mindful questioning!

Mindful Message

Dear Readers,

I was forced to take some time off from posting on a regular basis. I appreciate your support and hope to get back on a regular schedule of posts. You can expect to read posts three times a week. I will share my ideas and insights about becoming more mindful. I hope you join me on my journey to a more still, purposeful and mindful place.

Peace and Stillness,

Melba Christie

 

I found myself looking at this bookend I was dusting off as I was reorganizing my library. I thought about all the tragedy recently. I was hoping not to let negative feelings take over but we have had our share of crazy unstillness lately. I think I just made up a word. I realized that I needed to ease up and also figure out on how to help others regain ease and peace.

I sometimes have to talk myself into staying focused and on track with my goals. I remind myself that only I can simplify my commitments so I am not so overwhelmed. I have to work on being mindful of the daily distractions.

I looked at this jester type figure and focused on finding something comical or funny to get myself relaxed.  I picked up some joke books and had some hearty laughs. Afterwards I was able to fight off  the distractions and stay focused and still.

What do you do to stay focused and mindful? I would love to hear from you.