05 October 2020

Self-compassion – the key to a good relationship with your self

Good relationships with others start with a good relationship with one’s self.

For decades my good friend Christine Longaker has taught from experience – along with the support of some exceptional teachers of her own. More recently, her whole world fell apart. Out of this excruciating experience Christine came to realization that if we do want to feel warm and secure within our own hearts, then self-compassion is essential. 

Now it is a pleasure to recommend an online Self-compassion program Christine will present, and virtue of a guest blog, to share something of her own inner journey, but first

       Thought for the day

By 3 methods we may learn wisdom:

First be reflection, which is the noblest.

Second by imitation, which is the easiest.

Third is by experience, which is the most painful.


Christine writes…

I called it ‘the year of losing everything.’ (Well, almost everything.) Within 18 months, 7 people close to me died, including both my parents and my dear partner Paul. In the year before his death Paul experienced a few strokes and we were hit with many very powerful difficulties I had to handle alone. Frankly, I went into shock. 

But it did not stop there. In the year following Paul’s death, I lost almost everything I called ‘life’: my home, car and possessions, career, financial security, and country of residence. One tumultuous year stretched into five, and I repeatedly found myself with no place to live, storing a few paltry boxes in yet another attic and still unable to grieve. 

Even with decades of experience with meditation and compassion and having taught these to medical professionals for 35 years, strangely I now felt empty-handed. I had been totally cleared out.

Finally, while preparing a talk for a large hospice in Ireland, I realized that I was experiencing a 'surfeit of suffering' and that what I needed was to have compassion for myself. 

Sounds simple, right? 

But honestly, I did not know where to begin.

I needed more than a method for comforting myself. 

For me, compassion means that when our hearts are touched upon seeing suffering, we do what we can to alleviate it.

I knew I needed to understand the origins of my pain so I could come to terms with my history and forgive myself for my patterns. 

And, I needed a self-compassion process that would lead me toward getting free of suffering once and for all. 

That is why my very personal research into developing self-compassion has three dimensions...

1. Opening your mind

I started gathering insights that helped open my mind from a variety of sources: insight meditation teacher Tara Brach, Buddhist teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Irish author and poet John O'Donohue, and Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. 

2. Changing your feelings 

Sitting every morning looking toward the sunrise over the ocean and Bere Island in Southwest Ireland, my heart kept posing the questions: In the midst of massive losses, how can I truly feel I am loved? Why can't I forgive myself? How can I befriend my body? Is it even possible to stop beating myself up, and feel genuine compassion for my predicament? 

Gradually, insights came that helped me develop meditations which effectively changed my feelings.

As I applied these methods to my heart I felt more ease and flow in my life – and my body. 

I was able to understand and accept my patterns; and, even when my inner critic re-surfaced, I could smile and decide: ‘I’m not going there.’ 

What touched me the most was realizing that as I came to truly understand and feel compassion for myself, I found space in my tender heart for all the people I used to judge. Just like me, they also have a secret history of pain and suffering, and they equally deserve compassion and love. 

It would be nice if I could say that everything is now ‘done and dusted.’ Actually, there is still a process unfolding, and yet I am feeling more trust and security than I ever have in my life.

3. Lightening your life 

This includes two levels: setting down our burdens, and then, stepping into freedom – walking into the brilliant warmth and infinite goodness of our true nature. Ultimately, self-compassion is learning to abide in our skylike and loving essence, arriving at what the Buddha called an ‘unshakable freedom of heart.’

Lately I have been giving workshops and meditations on easing grief, and anxiety, with self-compassion, reducing burnout and building resilience, improving self-esteem, and approaching forgiveness. Self-compassion helps with illness, chronic pain, addiction and injuries. Research shows self-compassion to be the most important factor for preventing PTSD in combat veterans. 

Now with humanity facing the fallout and multi-layered threats from the pandemic, I am offering a course for my friends in Australia and New Zealand titled: ‘From Adversity to Aliveness: the power of self-compassion to heal and free your heart’. 

With unique applications of compassion, insight and mindfulness, it is possible to dismantle the sources of our harmful patterns and false beliefs. 

We can create a new, empowered relationship with our “inner critic”. 

We learn strengths that help us understand and heal suffering, and together we will practice exceptional guided meditations designed to change the way we feel about ourselves. 

We are given practical skills for bringing the mindful presence of meditation into daily life. 

All of these become stepping-stones to enhanced resilience, ease and joy.

From Adversity to Aliveness 

Four 3-hour modules; live on Sundays: Nov. 1, 15, 29, and Dec. 13.

Time: 6 - 9pm AEST, and Europe: 8am - 11am CET. 

Full fee: AUS $80; Concession: AUS $50. 

To register CLICK HERE


For Christine’s website CLICK HERE

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