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  • Writer's pictureJen Kranjec

A Spiritual Perspective on Self Compassion


First, let's define what I mean by a spiritual perspective. Spiritual can mean a lot of different things to different people and even vary in different circumstances for the same person. 


So, in this moment, let’s think of a spiritual perspective as one that peers through a lens that is undivided, not being pushed and pulled by the content of experience. One that sees the moment with a simple kind of clarity.


We’re seeing (and sensing) the moment just as it is.


This is like not being identified with what we might call ego. 

Allowing ego to do all that ego does,

and not being so caught in its comings and goings.


Self Compassion is like a bridge between ego identification and non-ego identification.


And non-ego identification comes with a type of FREEDOM.


There’s more space there, more ease.


It’s like opening up to the space that surrounds all of our stories, identifications, desires, and emotions. All of the joys and all of the suffering.

Suffering.

Yes, 

This human experience includes suffering.


And you,

Yes,

You, are not exempt.


Suffering is a relative term. And it varies in degree, of course. It might be something as small as spilling your coffee on the floor. What does your consciousness do in those moments?


We suffer from losses, diseases, financial hardship, challenging relationships, and overly busy lives.

Your suffering is not my suffering,

But,

We both suffer sometimes.


Yeah, we suffer sometimes.


I don’t want to paint a picture that life is always some degree of struggle. 


We also experience the delight of wins, healing, financial savings, flourishing relationships, and moments of rest. 


I’m not just someone who loves to talk about suffering.

(Idk maybe there is some weird inclination towards it lol.)

But I do love to talk about all of reality,

And that includes struggle.

And when we don’t look honestly into the eyes of our relative sufferings, 

We are cutting off a part of our experience. 

We’re cutting off our connection to life (even if temporarily).


And perhaps this is why we begin to feel disconnected…

Like there is a deeper intimacy we yearn for.


We often search for this intimacy in a romantic partner or a job,

But it can be found in all of life.

And in ourselves. 

Through ourselves.


It can be found in the joys, the sufferings, and the multitude of mundane moments.


And when we begin to experience this intimacy with all of life (this staying connected to), we open ourselves to immense freedom and energy.


We are no longer getting so bogged down by the activity of pushing and pulling at the moment.


(This is definitely a practice for me right now.)


~


As the bridge, Self Compassion can be defined as the ability to stay with ourselves in suffering. 


It helps us to stay present with experience so we can stay open and not lose our identity in the content.


When compassion is applied to another person, it means we fully allow ourselves to notice someone else in a hard place, to be touched by it even, on the level of heart and body, and from this place, be moved or simply just hold space as a loving presence.


We keep ourselves expanded. We don’t become them and their suffering. We witness. Hold space for it.


So when it comes to ourselves, we get to play both roles. We must first fully allow ourselves to notice our own troubling moments, and feel the tricky sensations and states that come with them. We are both the one who suffers and the one who holds it.


This is important.


In a lot of ways this is like a 180 pivot from what we’re used to doing with challenging moments in our more unconscious states.


We’ve contorted ourselves and come up with whole patterns of behaving to avoid feeling embarrassment, shame, frustration, anger, sadness, and loneliness.


We haven’t wanted to feel all of those sensations pulsing through our bellies and limbs. 


So now we’re turning towards it, in order to plug back into life, and to plug back into ourselves. Because there is a part of us that realizes we aren't who we thought ourselves to be.


Self-Compassion is a key in this.


Because to turn towards what we once turned away from, we can expect some turbulence. 

And when things get rocky, we need to make more space for ourselves, not less.


Think about how a “yes” to the moment feels in your body versus a “no”.


When I’m running late to work am I beating myself up for timing things poorly,

Or am I saying “Ok, yes, this is what’s happening. I’ll try to build in more time next time. You got thisssss.”?


The first is a constriction.

The second is an expansion.


Constriction is the activity of ego.

Expansion is the activity of our non-identified self.


One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Adyashanti, often talks of ego not as some fixed thing but as the activity of pushing and pulling at the moment. 


Self-Compassion says yes to the moment in our harder moments. It is not grasping or pushing away. And it even makes space for the activity of ego. Get that!


So this yes is a portal back to our more expanded selves.


Self-Compassion is not just something we do to be nice or good or hip on the latest wellness trends.


It is an honest plugging back into life as it is, and finding our right relationship to it.


It's a sobering up, as Adya would say.


And with time, it becomes more and more the natural reflex, to act with compassion towards ourselves. 

We may find ourselves chuckling in moments that previously ticked us off because we have cultivated more space within ourselves, and at the very same time, more intimacy, too.


Self Compassion can be humor.

Please, let it be humor sometimes.

Often.



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