Hello, Old Friend. 
I know you.
What are you trying to tell me?
Thich Nhat Hanh: Living Buddha, Living Christ

Compassion is our capacity to care and to show that we care.  Many of us understand the former, but we aren’t always wise about the expression of that care… particularly when we (or others) don’t perform according to our own (or others’) standards and expectations.

When I first learned mindfulness, I faced a “less than” version of my self quite frequently and was a bit taken aback by the defensive and sometimes abusive nature of my mind and brain’s inner chatter!  I tried to not dwell on my failures or attempt to get rid of my faults in the moment, as instructed, but I suffered a great deal because I wanted to do my best.  Then I learned about one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s signature technique that he calls “the half smile.”  For Nhat Hanh, mindfulness allows “the seed of the Holy Spirit” to enter our lives and “heal the wounds of our mind.”  We make peace with our less-than elements when we accept that they exist “without watering the seeds.”  We smile because of deep understanding, the foundation of insight.

By the way, contemporary neuroscientists note that smiling provides the body and mind with a reduction in stress hormones, an increase in immunological responsiveness, a decrease in inflammatory reactions… and energy, energy we can use to change… should we want to grow into the best version of ourselves rather than fight the less-than version of ourselves!

Instructions:

  • Today, when you observe a “less than” side to yourself or another, act as if the accompanying critic was present to teach you something.
  • Literally say to yourself, “Hello. Old Friend.  I know you.  What are you trying to tell me?”
  • Breathe In, OutSlow, DeepCalm, EaseSmile, Release while you listen for the insight that comes with communication with the Spirit of our Teacher.
© Copyright 2013 Maria Hunt
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