Loving Kindess

It’s been ten days since I gave birth to my son Jude.

I’ve just become a mother.

Things feel equal parts hard and beautiful.

There’s a storm raging outside and the news tells us that there’s a tornado passing through New Jersey. So bizarre. We hunker down and don’t think much of it.

Then we receive a call that my grandpop’s apartment building lost power. He lives alone and survives on oxygen. Following a series of panicked phone calls, we get the news that he passed.

The last text message I sent my Grandpop said, “One of the greatest gifts of my life is knowing that you will get to meet Jude.”

Loving Kindess

The only thing as painful as the grief was the regret and frustration towards myself: “Why, Alex? How come you didn’t make a visit happen so that they could have met? How come you haven’t even called him since he was born?”

These thoughts wrecked me.

It’s a work in progress, but I really try hard to be gentle with myself and on most days I can catch myself when I’m being unkind. Of course the real challenge starts when I mess up. When I make a mistake. When I do something outside of my values. This felt like one of those times and it resulted in a harsh nagging.

Loving kindness was one of the skills that I used (am still using) to soften the inner critic. Loving kindness is often in the form of a meditation but it doesn’t have to be. In essence, it is a practice of extending feelings of warmth, love and compassion for loved ones, friends, those we are angry with, difficult people, and all beings.

The key is to remember that we are one of those beings too.

The practice doesn’t really work unless we include ourselves.

Loving kindness does not impose an obligation of achieving a goal, like approval or forgiveness. It does however serve as a tool for letting go of judgments, hostility and resentment.

To start, call to mind loved ones or yourself and work your way up to the more challenging people. It is almost like saying a prayer for yourself and others. Once you have someone or a group of people in mind, you send well wishes in their direction. It helps to have a phrase to recite as you do so, such as: “may you be happy, may you be safe, may you live with ease.”

I keep coming back to this practice by turning to myself. If I don’t pay attention, judgments and criticism take center stage when grief really needs the spotlight.

Instead, I return to: “may I be at peace”.

DBT of South Jersey media

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