Note: At the bottom of this written practice there is a recording of it, if you would prefer to listen. In the practices that contain a guided meditation, please remember never to listen to these recorded meditations when driving or working with dangerous machinery.
One of the themes I’ve noticed in my work in recent years is an increasing emphasis on inviting clients to notice their wholeness, and on accepting the fact that our human wholeness includes aspects of ourselves that we don’t particularly like. This means acknowledging and accepting these aspects of self, recognizing that we can’t remove or eliminate parts of our human wholeness.
One metaphor I use for managing wholeness when we’re in touch with things about ourselves that we want to hide or exorcise is a rainbow. We can’t take a color out of the rainbow, even if we don’t like it. Another metaphor is the foreground/background dynamic I’ve written about a number of times, where aspects of our wholeness are sometimes in the foreground of our awareness and behavior and then sometimes in the background. Whatever moves into the foreground can be invited into the background and whatever lives in the background can be invited forward.
In addition to becoming aware of and engaging more consciously the foreground/background dynamic inherent in our wholeness, one of the practices I’ve encouraged people to engage is to imagine that they put a gentle arm around parts of themselves that they don’t like. This would include aspects of themselves that generate shame or discomfort of some other kind, ways of being that they see in themselves that they swore they would never express, responses and behaviors that embarrass them or that they dislike intensely. We can’t escape our wholeness, but we can learn to relate to this fact of being with kindness and gentleness rather than with criticism, aggression, and anger.
And so, for this week’s practice in conscious living, I invite you to explore the following guided meditation and notice what works for you and what doesn’t. Please be sure to allow and track mixed feelings, as they are inherent in our wholeness. The key is to bring awareness to them without having to do anything with them right now.
- To begin, settle in so that you are well supported and able to be relaxed and also alert.
- Follow the next out-breath down to the place in you that is your natural internal home base, the place in you where you connect with what you might think of as your core or your internal center of gravity.
- Take a moment to notice the steadiness that’s here in this special place inside you. This is an aspect of your being that cannot be disturbed no matter what unfolds. If you don’t find the steadiness, take a moment to imagine what it would be like if you could touch into that unflappable aspect of your being.
- Now, bring to mind an aspect of your wholeness, a quality of your personality or style of being in the world, that you don’t particularly like but that you notice is a part of you no matter what. This might be a vulnerable younger aspect of being. It might be an envious or selfish part of you. It might be a part of you that says things you wish later you hadn’t said. Whatever it is, take some time to acknowledge it as one of the colors in your rainbow and that it sometimes seems to pop into the foreground of your experience whether you want it to or not.
- Next, imagine that you can put a gentle arm around this aspect of your wholeness. Just that—a gentle embrace that offers support and kindness, the recognition that this is part of your body-mind being, part of the unique configuration of aspects of being that constitute your wholeness.
- Bring your awareness to your heart space and notice if your heart is open right now. There’s nothing else to do but to be present to this experience of putting a gentle arm around this aspect of your being, offering acknowledgment and acceptance, if not agreement with how it expresses. You might notice that this response and action often allow this part of your wholeness to settle into the background of your awareness as your present-day adult self fills up the foreground.
- Notice what it’s like if you were able to experience the quality of living with acceptance of your wholeness, acceptance of yourself. So often, one of the deep lessons we all need to learn is to deepen our self-acceptance and kindness toward ourselves. The beautiful outcome of achieving this ability is that we automatically and spontaneously express more kindness to others.
- Take a few moments now to be present to the resonating tone of your experience. Continue to orient to your heart space, noticing if your chest is loose and relaxed or if there’s any tension. If you find tension, breathe in and out through your heart a few times and focus your awareness on kindness. Remember that kindness is a frequency of being, a quality of energy that you can resonate with whenever you want.
- When you’re ready to conclude this meditation, wiggle your fingers and toes, open your eyes and look around your environment, and come all the way back.
As with all these practices, please remember to bring along curiosity as your constant companion. And, also please remember to pat gently on the head any judgments that may arise, allowing them to move on through without your having to do anything with or about them.