This is a transcript of a brief meditation taken from Healing Rhythms 15 Days to Relax Relieve & Restore that I signed up for. If it would allow me to download the audio of it so that I could share it that way with all of you I would, but of course it’s protected. So here is the transcript instead that I have typed up to share. There was a little more to it but this was what I felt was the most important and is called Practice Compassion with Dr. Dean Ornish.
I have two reasons for wanting to share this. First it is to reinforce how powerful our minds truly are and you will understand that as you read through this. Second I hope that as you read through it you also do what Dr. Ornish is telling us to do. Read it first and then as you go through each part again, close your eyes and do what he asked you to do. I guarantee you that it is a very powerful exercise. Enjoy!
Practice Compassion with Dr. Dean Ornish
Close your eyes for a moment and think about somebody that you are having a hard time with. Maybe they did something really bad to you, maybe they just did something that you don’t like, maybe you are just having a hard time working with them. Maybe they are someone in your family that you are having a hard time relating to. Now it’s easy to just say “Okay I’m outta here, I don’t want to deal with this”, but maybe that person is your spiritual teacher in another form. In fact maybe everyone is our spiritual teacher in another form, and if someone is really annoying us, maybe it’s because they are resonating with that part of our own body and our own mind and our own hearts that we haven’t yet really dealt with, that we’ve kept in the shadow. There’s an old saying that when you point your finger at someone, there’s three fingers pointing back at you. And so when I find that someone’s really annoying me, there’s a good chance that it’s because it’s resonating with some part of myself that I don’t like and haven’t really dealt with.
So for the moment, sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and take a couple of slow deep breaths just to center yourself. Now bring to your awareness an image of someone that you are not comfortable with. Maybe they did something to you that you didn’t like, maybe they didn’t do something to you that you wanted, for whatever reason. Now allow yourself to see that person in your mind’s eye as clearly as you can. If possible, bring as many of your senses into this as well. That you can hear the sound of their voice, you can imagine what they smell like, what they feel like, what their presence is like when they are with you. And pay attention to how you feel now that you are bringing them into your space, even though it’s only an image, your body reacts to images in your mind as though it was really there. Your mind doesn’t know the difference even though part of you of course does. On a visceral gut level, your body will react as though that person was really there with you, and in some ways they really are. Now notice how you are feeling, notice your breathing, are you breathing now a little faster, a little more shallow? Are your muscles a little more tense? That’s useful information.
Now when you think about it, ironically we often empower the person that we are the most uncomfortable with to make ourselves the most uncomfortable. A few moments ago when you were just sitting quietly, before we started this image, you were feeling pretty good. Now maybe you’re not. The only thing that’s changed is what’s going on in your own mind. So if we can change it in a way that creates stress for ourselves, we can also create it in a way that allows us to get back to a place of health and joy and peace and healing.
So now that you are with that person you are angry with in your own mind, let’s reframe that in a different way because you have the capacity to do that. Now see that person in a more compassionate way. Maybe they should know better but maybe they forgot what they already know, or maybe they never learned it. And to the extent that you can, replace the feelings of anger with love, and the feelings of holding onto the sense righteous injustice with forgiveness. Then it doesn’t condone what they’ve done, but it frees you from the negative affects of that. So keeping your eyes closed, see if you can find a way to see that person in a more compassionate light, that light of love and forgiveness and understanding. It doesn’t excuse what they did, it doesn’t condone what they did but it frees you from the effects of that.
Now I want you to try something even more difficult, but even more powerful. Imagine something that you have done in your own life that you have a hard time forgiving, that you don’t like about yourself. And we all have things like that. Go back to the point in your life when you actually were in that place and you didn’t do what you thought you should have done or you did something that was hurtful to you or to the people around you or both. Pay attention to how that memory, that image, is affecting you right here and now. It may have happened years ago but it’s right here and now that it’s affecting you in a negative way. Again pay attention to your breathing, pay attention to your muscles, if they are tense or not. Pay attention to your sense of mood and how you are feeling, if you are feeling sad or depressed or lonely. Those are important clues because again awareness is always the first step in healing. Once we become aware of what we’re feeling and how it’s affecting us we can change it, transform that. So in that spirit, allow yourself to reprocess that image of yourself, to recontextualize it, to reframe it. Try to take a more compassionate view towards yourself. Try to say “yeah maybe I should have known better but I learned something from that process, I don’t have to carry that around with me anymore, I can let it go”.
So take a moment and whatever way you can reframe that, allow yourself to feel as much love as you can for yourself in this moment, right here, right now. Allow that love to fill every cell in your body, every cell in your heart, every cell in your mind. The darkness and the light can’t be there at the same time. When you shine that light of compassion and love in your own heart, in the darkest deepest recesses that you may have even shut down from yourself and your own awareness, the darkness is no longer there. Just feel that sense of love and compassion for yourself that you want to feel from other people right here at this moment, to experience true and complete joy in ways that maybe we never even dreamed were possible but are. Take a moment and imagine that it is happening now in your own body and in your own heart.