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Mindful : August 2014
under some leaves. Immedi- ately your mood shifts from anger to concern. You see that the dog’s agg ression sprang from vulnerability and pain. This applies to all of us. When we behave in hurtful, reactive ways, it’s because we’re caught in some kind of painful trap. The more we investigate the source of our suffering, the more we culti- vate a compassionate heart toward ourselves and others. When I recognized how my leg was in a trap—sick- ness compounded with self- aversion—my heart filled with sorrow and genuine self-care. The investigating deepened as I gently put my hand over my hear t—a gesture of kindness— and invited whatever other feelings were there to surface. A swell of fear (uncertainty for my future) spread through my chest, followed by an upwell- ing of grief at losing my health. The sense of self-compassion unfurled fully as I mentally whispered, It’s all right, sweethea rt, a nd consciously offered care to the depths of my vulnerability, just as I would to a dea r friend. When we behave in hurtful, reactive ways, it’s because we’re caught in some kind of painful trap. The more we investigate the source of our suffering, the more we cultivate a compassionate heart toward ourselves and others. Compassion a rises natu- rally when we mindfully con- tact our suffering and respond with care. As you practice the RAIN of Self-Compa ssion, experiment and see which intentiona l gesture of kindness most helps to soften or open your hear t. Ma ny people find healing by gently placing a hand on the heart or cheek; others, in a whispered mes- sage of care, or by envisioning being bathed in warm, radiant light. What matters is that once you have investigated a nd connected with your suffering, respond by offering care to your own heart. When the intention to awa ken self- love and compassion is sincere, the smallest gesture—even if, initially, it feels awk wa rd— will serve you well. → August 2014 mindful 75 in practice insight August 2014 mindful 75