Practice: Befriending Self

Saki Santorelli, director of the stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, offers some words of wisdom about practicing mindfulness, or "offering hospitality to ourselves."

Mindfulness is an act of hospitality. A way of learning to treat ourselves with kindness and care that slowly begins to percolate into the deepest recesses of our being while gradually offering us the possibility of relating to others in the same manner. Working with whatever is present is enough. There is no need to condemn ourselves for not feeling loving or kind. Rather, the process simply asks us to entertain the possibility of offering hospitality to ourselves no matter what we are feeling or thinking. This has nothing to do with denial or self-justification for unkind or undesirable actions, but it has everything to do with self-compassion when facing the rough, shadowy, difficult, or uncooked aspects of our lives.

This week try taking some time to explore the possibility of sitting with yourself as if you were your own best friend. Dwelling in the awareness of the breath, allowing thoughts and feelings to come and go, experiment with the possibility of embracing yourself as you would embrace another person who is dear to you and needs to be held. If you like, try silently repeating a phase on your own behalf. You might offer yourself one or more of the following:

May I be safe.

May I be free from suffering.

May I be peaceful.

Find the words that are right for you in this moment of your life. This may feel awkward, foreign, or lacking in authenticity. None of these feelings need be denied. Nevertheless, if this act of intrapsychic hospitality appeals to you, give yourself the room to work with this practice as a way of caring for yourself. Such a way of working with ourselves is not meant to foster egocentricity or selfishness. It is just asking us to step back into the circle of caring and include ourselves.

For more, see Saki's article Letting Ourselves Heal

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