By Karen Whistler
On Sunday, Pastor Marietta touched on a phrase that is dear to my own journey: Self-compassion.
In my personal history, self-compassion and letting God love me are intimately linked. Only when I accept my own belovedness with tenderness towards myself, do the defenses that keep God at arms length break down.
In late spring of 2021, I have a distinct memory of opening up to self-compassion. I allowed kindness toward myself to be the defining source of how I constructed my self image. As my attitude towards myself softened, God was able to expand to fill in a bigger, more generous view of themself as the source of that loving-kindness.
I spent decades feeling the only way to serve or help others was to ignore my own needs or put myself down. Through experiencing self-compassion I came to know the great paradox: only by experiencing God’s utter acceptance within my own brokenness can I truly bring love to anyone else, AND let them love me in return. Pastor Marietta tied this idea beautifully in the sermon. She connected how our experience of self-compassion carries forward into compassion we bring to assembling the personal care kits for people who are incarcerated at Mission Creek Correctional Center for Women near Belfair.
When I began exploring the power of self-compassion, one thing I did was listen to a meditation on Psalm 139 by Maria Gullo at least 1-3 times per day, every day for over a year.
I still return frequently to this recording to remind myself how my own creation is infused with Love. I also listen to a number of other practices by Maria Gullo including this one on accepting our belovedness.
During that time I also found a guided meditation on Christian Mindfulness that transformed my view of myself and my view of God’s attitude toward me. Unfortunately, that exact recording has been removed. But they posted something similar: Christian Mindfulness by Methods
Components from the practice that I return to often:
Still your body and mind, focusing on your breath, as you contemplate the Holy Spirit as the Ruach, or breath, of God’s Spirit filling your body with life.
“I accept your acceptance of me...”
“I confess that you are always with me and always for me.”
“I receive into my spirit your grace, your mercy, and your, care.”
Just this week, the podcast Hidden Brain re-posted their episode with Kristin Neff. She is a psychologist and researcher who unearthed the power of self-compassion. Kristin’s website is aptly named https://self-compassion.org. She has studied the personal and interpersonal benefits of self-compassion.
Kristin Neff is an Associate Professor at University of Texas at Austin. She is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, conducting the first empirical studies on the topic almost 20 years ago.“
Kristin Neff also has practices on Insight Timer. There are a number to browse through. If you are struggling with a difficult judgement towards yourself, her Loving-Kindness With Self-Compassion meditation is helpful.
I find the benefit of listening to meditation practices is that these words become my thoughts. And these thoughts build up my character and flow through into my own words and actions. Self-compassion is something I lose easily. I have to return to square one often, but the pursuit worthwhile and the fruit is Holy.
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