Mindful compassion week 3
So, this week was week 3 of the mindful compassion course that I have been attending online.
I approached this week with a bit of trepidation as I had experienced some back draft when I tried to meditate this past week. This is a term that I introduced last week in my blog and said that I would explore it a little bit further today.
Backdraft refers to distress that arises when we give ourselves compassion. Backdraft is a term that firefighters use to describe how a fire can intensify when fresh air is introduced through an open door. A similar effect can occur when we open the door of our hearts with self-compassion. Most of our hearts are hot with pain accumulated over a lifetime. In order to function in our lives, we needed to shut out stressful, or painful experiences. However, when the door of our heart opens and kindness flows in, old hurts are likely to come out.
That is backdraft!
This could be experienced as emotional feelings, such as a feeling of sadness that arises. We might struggle mentally and criticise ourselves, feeling like a failure, we may withdraw, space out amongst others. We may also react physically with body memories, aches, or pains.
The following video, by one of the founders of this course, Chris Germer, explains the concept of back draft more fully.
We talked this week and last week about ways to manage feelings of backdraft, or overwhelm. This could include exploring where the emotion physically resides in the body, such as an ache in the chest, tension in the stomach and then when you notice these sensations offering yourself soothing touch. This could include holding your own hand, or giving yourself a hug:
Another way of managing backdraft might be to redirect your awareness to a neutral point inside of the body. This could be focusing on the breath, or feeling the soles of the feet as you stand, or walk along the floor. The focus can also be taken to neutral points outside of the body, such as noticing sounds that are around you.
Another way of managing backdraft can be focusing on daily activities, such as paying full attention to washing the dishes, or having a shower. You could also go out and do some exercise, such as going for a walk, or cycling.
Another way of managing backdraft can be calling a supportive friend, or making an appointment to see your personal counsellor if you have one, in order to talk more fully about the distress that may have been evoked by backdraft.
The following video is quite helpful and covers some of the things we spoke about in the course this week.
I would like to end this weeks blog by leaving a video of one of the meditations that we explored this week. Loving kindness. We were encouraged to find our own words and phrases that were meaningful and relevant to us and our situations in place of the usual loving kindness phrases, which are usually along the lines of 'may I be safe, may I be well, may I be peaceful, may I live with ease...'
This too may be a good option for you to play around with the words and phrases that you use, if this is a practice that you normally struggle to connect with.
As ever thank you all for following my page Flourishing MK and for reading my blog posts.
If you have any questions about mindfulness, or counselling please don't hesitate to get in contact with me. Mindfulness and counselling I have found very supportive in my life over the past ten years, both in terms of pain management and personal development. I hope that they can help you too.
Until next time, warm wishes,