DBT Skill of the Month: Loving-Kindness
by Lauren Wash, MHC-LP
Starting January 1st, people around the globe are more motivated than ever to become the “best” possible versions of themselves that they can be. Setting resolutions at first may feel empowering, but can create a false sense of control. Resolutions are often linked to hard and fast goals, timelines and outcomes, and initially it may feel relieving to us that we are finally "doing something" about a certain area of life we would like to see change in. Unfortunately, for many, resolutions involve black and white thinking -- either you are keeping your resolution, or your aren't; either you're meeting your goal or you aren't; you're making progress or you aren't -- it can be easy to get caught up with whether you are succeeding or failing.
The DBT skill of Mindfulness asks that we practice a "being-with mind" instead of a "doing mind". When we are not being mindful, we are usually not in wise-mind; when we are not in wise mind, it is easy to get caught up in negative emotions, thoughts and self-judgments, and the kind of black and white thinking that can set us up for failure and emotional suffering. Adding a loving-kindess meditation to your daily routine is a way to practice the skill of mindfulness as well as foster compassion for self and others.
We invite you to recite our Aurora Mantra which ends with a Loving-Kindness meditation. Try reciting this to yourself once a day, perhaps in the morning before starting your day, or in the evening before falling asleep. You can use this mantra in moments of distress, pain, loneliness, disconnect, fear, anger, or need. Open your heart to yourself this year, and make YOU a priority.
Today I will live with awareness of the present moment. I will observe my experience without judging or rejecting the moment. I will notice body sensations, mindfully pay attention to the present moment, focusing on one thing at one time. I will observe both inside and outside myself. I will put words on my experience, acknowledging thoughts and feelings as they occur in each moment. I will courageously bring all parts of myself into everything I do and live fully in my experiences.
Today I will accept myself as I am, while acknowledging and accepting that there are parts of me that need to grow. I will practice being with what is, without fixing, changing or protesting the situation. I will accept my edges and honor others boundaries in my interactions with them. I will practice acceptance of any mistakes or use of eating disordered behaviors, by acknowledging them, reflecting on them, and moving on. I will accept that there are some things not in my power to change, including the thoughts, opinions, feelings & behaviors of others. I will accept that everyone is just doing the best that they can, including me.
I recognize that today is a new day, and an opportunity for a fresh start: to be different, to think different, to do different. Today I will take care of myself by taking care of my body. I will honor my hunger and fullness cues and eat nourishing foods. I will avoid abusing mood-altering substances. I will mindfully participate in balanced physical movement. When I connect with and honor myself I create the opportunity to be present with and respectful to others.
Loving Kindness Meditation
Sitting, standing or lying down begin by breathing slowly and deeply, repeat to yourself the following:
May I be at peace. May I be healthy. May I be safe. May I have enough. May I listen to my inner voice and speak my truth. May I trust more than I fear. May I be balanced in giving and receiving. May I appreciate and learn from my experiences without judgment.