The Self Compassion Break, shared during the first session of the Mindful Self Compassion (MSC) course, is a beginning MSC practice. One that invites us to pause, tune into ourselves, acknowledge the impact of a difficult moment, and to respond with a measure of self kindness. As we engage in the three part practice, the sequencing of the phrases becomes familiar, accessible and soothing. The approach is typically private and spoken quietly to ourselves. But what if we were, on occasion, to intentionally share our personal practice out loud? By exemplifying the process, might we in turn inspire others to pause and take care of themselves too?
I remember years ago when my then 8 year old daughter said that she was tired and wanted to pass on her usual Friday night dance class, deciding instead that it would be better for her to put her feet up and have a quiet night in. I paused and smiled to myself knowing that my efforts to be out loud with my own self care had resonated, inviting my little girl to tune into her own limits and needs.
I recently launched my first Live OnLine MSC course. While I’m a seasoned teacher, the OnLine delivery was new to me. During Session 1, I introduced our first MSC practice – the Self Compassion Break (SCB). During Session 2, the opportunity to exemplify the SCB presented itself.
The Live OnLine platform is dependent on access to the internet. We have real time classes and the courseware for students, and the teaching guide for faculty, is posted exclusively on a web based platform. And so when readying for our second Live OnLine session, only to discover that the platform was unexpectedly in ‘maintenance mode’, the flurry of emails from students began and my own anxiety began to rise. Much to our relief, when the appointed hour came, we were able to access the course in its entirety. We opened our session with our ‘How is your practice going?’ and I put myself out there and shared my own ‘Self Compassion Break’ story.
“Oh my! I can’t access Power School! What am I going to do? All the teaching material is on line. I should have logged on and reviewed earlier… I should have made notes of session content outline…”
This is a moment of suffering:
“Breathe Christine. I know this is unnerving and potentially embarrassing, but there will be a solution. Take a moment, make a cup of tea.”
Suffering is a part of living:
“I’m sure that there are many other Power School teachers out there who are also ‘having a moment’. You are not alone. And likely your LOMSC teacher colleagues have had this experience too and somehow have found their way through it.”
May I be kind to myself:
“What do you need to do? First things first, respond to student emails with a message of reassurance, now that you’ve realized that if nothing else, we will still be able to connect for our online session via zoom. You have your teacher guide. You know the content well. You have taught the course many times. Let’s begin preparing a lesson plan – content, timing…”
And after my sharing and our session, I received the following message from one of the participants:
“I wanted to tell you how grateful I am for the imperfection of the technology aspect in this past Sunday’s class because you used it to do a beautiful, and for me, very meaningful, teaching of the process of self-care and self-kindness in the face of the unexpected and unwanted. I found it quite helpful, much more so than if the technology had gone without a hitch. So thank you for that teaching.”
So may we continue to offer ourselves compassion in the midst of life’s challenging moments and perhaps also consider sharing our lived experience out loud with others; perhaps inspiring them to also be with themselves in kinder and gentler ways.