I have a secret self-compassion exercise that I use, when times are tough and I am struggling with irreconcilable issues. It has helped me tremendously. I call it 24 hours to live. As evident in the name, I acknowledge my feelings and, with self-compassion, I ask myself what I would do if I had 24 hours to live. In both the mindfulness and self-compassion traditions, it is a well-known fact that you cannot accurately predict future events, and because I cannot know how long I have to live, it is good practice to allow for the possibility that I do not have much time left. In this way, I am able to be fully present, but also have an opportunity to process and grieve the lack of control I have over how long I have to live.
The Next 24 Hours
Once the exercise begins, I do my best to live the next 24 hours, as I would, if they were my last. Of course, I have some awareness that they are not my last 24 hours, so I do not organize a family/friend meeting point at which I can tell every person I love how much they mean to me. Otherwise, the rules remain the same. I try to let go of everything that stands in the way of me experiencing life as it is, doing my best to accept it, and sending my love out into the universe in any way I can, since that is how I would want to spend my last 24 hours. Yours can be whatever feels natural to you.
In this way, I am able to make peace with my humanity, my struggles, my hopes, my dreams, and my purpose, and at least for 24 hours, I am able to live fully, and simply. I think we all take for granted how complicated and sometimes unnecessarily stressful our experience can be, and it just feels good to take a break from this even if just for a short while. I highly recommend it.
Give it A Try
So, wherever you are and however you feel, if this feels like an exercise that would be helpful to you, see if you can take the next 24 hours to live, as you would, if they were all you had left. Bring some compassion to your wish to do all things for all people, and simply be. My guess is that it will help rearrange your priorities in a way that feels right to you. I am not saying that it will completely change your life, but it might do that. At the very least, it will give you one more opportunity to practice self-compassion, and there is nothing wrong with that.
365 Days Of Self-Compassion. Day 248. In The Books.