At this time, it’s important to recognize that we, as a society, are facing a great deal of uncertainty. When we’re trying to support others and feeling anxious ourselves, it can be difficult to nail down what exactly we can do and/or say to help others emotionally. Acknowledging the impact of the current pandemic on our own well-being is an important part of recognizing how we can best support others.
In loving-kindness meditation, we begin widening the circle of offering intentions of love and kindness outward, only after we have offered it to our own being. As you begin to take the time to read this article, I invite you to take this moment to slow down.
Take a deep breath in… exhale slowly.
With a kind tone, offer yourself a welcoming term of endearment. I like to say, “Welcome home, old friend.”
Now, if it’s possible, bring to mind an image of yourself at your most calm. Take your time.
Where are you? What are you doing? Who do you imagine you’re with? Or are you alone? How do you know you’re feeling calm?
If it helps to thicken the image, close your eyes and allow yourself some time to bring this image of you at your most calm, more fully to mind. Notice the smells, the textures, the colours, the sounds. Take a couple of deep breaths and take in the scene.
Notice what naturally arises.
Maybe your most calm self offers reassurance or expressions of love. Perhaps, they ask what’s most needed directly to the partner, friend or relative (for example, would you like to talk solutions or would you rather I listen?). Maybe they suggest you don’t say much at all, but instead offer complete and total presence, hearing and validating, as the conversation goes. Maybe they suggest all of the above!
Perhaps with the person you’re trying to support, your most calm self recognizes that it might be more suitable to relate, or ask to share a joke, or re-direct back to routine, or suggest making art or writing a poem or singing karaoke. Or maybe your most calm self is telling you it’s time to set some limits and boundaries, to take care of you, in which case, that’s okay too!
If you’ve found this exercise helpful, consider using this practice in different ways. We might think of this practice as ‘inviting in’ different aspects of ourselves to be more fully present with us when we need them. Right now, anxiety is more present then ever for many people. It’s important to notice what anxiety tells us, as it often helps to protect us and keep us safe. However, if we only consult the anxiety, things can get very overwhelming very quickly.
Consider developing a few other consultants. For example, in addition to your most calm self, maybe there’s also your most curious self, or your most humorous self! Through developing these spaces within ourselves, we can at times find we’re better able to support others, respond to, and personally navigate, uncertainty.
By Shannon Bovey, M.Ed., RP, CCC
Shannon Bovey is a Registered Psychotherapist with The Counselling Group. She works with individuals across the lifespan. Looking for counselling? The Counselling Group offers a variety of experienced therapists who can support positive changes and growth in your life. For more information, please visit www.counsellinggroup.com or call 613-722-2225 x352 to speak with an intake worker today. We are offering appointments remotely at this time and are available to speak with you for new requests.