Self-Compassion For Refuge From Your Thoughts, Feelings, and Other People’s Problems

Self-Compassion And Refuge Are Friends

Self-Compassion and Refuge are friends. Thousands of years ago in the jungles of India, when people were scared of warring tribes, fearsome animals, and some of the same problems we deal with every day, they wished, like we do, that they could find some refuge. 

Today, we seek the same refuge, but our vernacular has changed a little bit.  Now, we call it freedom.  Before you get all freaked out by definitions that make you feel oppressed, let’s say for the sake of well-being that freedom means that you are safe, cared for, and have options that make you hopeful without feeling that wanting these things makes you more vulnerable to harm.

How To Take Refuge In Self-Compassion

You will never be able to find refuge or freedom in self-compassion, if you do not ask.  If in your self-compassion phrases, you do not say May I be free or May I have refuge from that which seeks to harm me, then it will be hard for the mind to consciously and unconsciously pursue this.  So, when you are saying your self-compassion phrases (e.g., May I be free from suffering. May I be kind to myself.  May I accept myself just as I am.) just add, May I be free or May I have refuge from suffering.

You can also use basic self-compassion, when these feelings or situations arise: 

First, compassion for yourself.  Notice the feeling, bodily sensation, or thought.  Name it.  Notice where it is in the body, and soften around it, or think of the red caboose on a train in your mind, and place it on the caboose until you cannot see it anymore.  Then, give yourself kindness.  Let your breathing be deep and long.  Watch some funny Youtube videos.  Give yourself a self-hug (ninja hug).  

Second, notice that the thoughts, feelings, or other people’s problems arise naturally.  They are not intentional.  Even people, who do bad things to us would probably enjoy being liked.  If only they knew how much they were messing that up, they would probably change.  Since they cannot and probably won’t, simply notice that, and watch your feeling of attachment to their behaviors loosen, and finally pass away.  As smart beings, we know that we can only carry our own loads. Other people’s problems are really none of our business, let alone part of our work.

Lastly, think about all that you have, all the good things that have happened to you, and all the people that love you.  Think about how you are doing such a good job practicing self-compassion right now.  Write down five of these things on a note card, and put it in your pocket.  These things are not meant to replace the bad feelings.  Bad feelings are bad feelings.  Bad feelings, like all feelings, need to be acknowledged, and processed, but after we let them go, it is important to be aware of everything else we have and feel, so as not to be burdened by only part of the portrait of our lives.

When these steps are complete, you will find some immediate refuge, and when practiced over time you may find refuge in simply going to the practice.  May your refuge by warm, kind, and unconditional.  May you know how much the rest of us suffer needlessly, as you do.  May this practice lighten your life, and broaden your heart, and may you share this gift will all the people you love so much.

365 Days Of Self-Compassion.  Day 155.  In The Books.