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By Justine Buckley
This month I'm sharing a practice with you called 'Being on your own side;. It is from a program developed by Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson called 'The Foundations of Well-Being'.
Have you noticed how effortless it is to rouse a fierce caring energy that wants to protect, nurture and be for people that matter to you? I'll jump to a stranger's aid and protect the underdog without thinking. Have you noticed how hard it is to feel this same protective, positive, motivated force towards your own person?
Why does it even matter if we're for or against ourselves or others? It matters because you matter. All beings, including you, deserve to be treated with dignity, care and compassion.
'Compassion and love are not mere luxuries.
As the source both of inner and external peace,
they are fundamental to the contented survival of our species.'
His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama
'The source of both inner and external peace'. I know personally and maybe you do too, loving feelings can vanish in a heartbeat even towards those held dearest. One perceived hurt or threat and I can turn against you, wanting to punish and withdraw away from you. Maybe your version of unloved is one-upmanship, wanting to feel more powerful, more knowledgeable, more than the other person in some way. Or maybe you just get angry and have an outburst. Maybe your inner judge goes to town and you annihilate others with your criticism of them. We can enact any of these unloving attitudes and behaviours towards ourselves as well.
So being a real friend to ourselves matters. The first time I did this practice I remembered a girl at my high school who, for no real reason at all, was the target of derision and nastiness. This unfairness put me wholly and squarely on her side. I was definitely for her. Remembering and experiencing in the body this stance I took many years ago I felt a vital, active and open energy in the body that wasn't hot-headed or irrational. I felt with this a kind of deep relief as I noticed the seeds of generosity, compassion, friendliness, empathy and connectedness flowing forth naturally when I was 'being for' rather than against myself or others. We all have these powerful inner resources.
Your experience is your own. Play with the Rick Hanson practice I set out below. Adapt it to suit you and remember, it is an experiment. When something is an experiment, explore and notice what happens with simple curiosity, warmth and patience. If you feel uncomfortable then shift your attention from the practice to something soothing - your breathing, the view out the window or go for a walk outside.
Practice of Being on Your Own Side
Adapted from The Foundations of Well-Being Program by Rick Hanson
1. Bring to mind a time you were for someone else. Really on their side. It could be a friend, your child or anyone from any period of life.
2. Explore this stance of being for someone. What is it like? Explore what this feels like in the body, notice what is happening in your experience of being for someone.
3. Apply this stance toward yourself.
4. Really let the experience of this stance sink into you. Stay with the experience, in the body. The more you stay with an experience the more it naturally saturates your being.
May you know happiness and its causes.
Love Justine x