in our eight-part journey toward total body confidence and compassion
On my path to healing, I spent many hours in therapy trying to recover from an eating disorder. The subject of my parents inevitably became a focal point, and it was through this process that I was able to realize how much my behaviors and beliefs had been shaped by the way I was raised. Like parents do, mine did their very best in raising me. But later in I found myself to be quite angry and hurt by their shortcomings. After discovering this meditation, I no longer wished, wanted or waited for my parents to change, or become someone other than who they were. I learned that I could be for myself what they could not be for me.
Existing in the “if only” paradigm can be a dangerous plane of existence; and yet we have all encountered situations when, while dealing with our parents, we have thought, “If only they could only be this way or that way, my life would be so much better!” or, “If only…then I would not be carrying this deep wound in my heart.” The time has come to cultivate care and nurturing from within your own heart, and the steps of this exercise will help you heal old wounds.
Keep in mind, there is no right or wrong way to do meditate. Meditation is about breath; it is about breathing normally, focusing on your breath, on the exercise and being in the moment.
There are three parts to this exercise. You can do them one at a time or all together. You can read the exercise yourself, have someone read it aloud to you or record yourself reading the words so that it can be played back. Personally, I prefer to have this exercise read to me as it allows me to better focus and properly direct my thoughts. It is helpful to have a journal or notebook ready to write down the nature of your feelings once you have finished. Should you feel like stopping at any time, do so. Powerful feelings may arise as you meditate; this is normal.
Close your eyes. Start to become aware of your breath. Focus on the breath coming in and going out. Rather than force the breath, breathe naturally. Allow yourself to feel the floor, the cushions or the bed beneath you. What sensations are you having? Notice the places in your body where you may have muscle tension, feel an itch, experience warmth, fullness, emptiness, sensations of pulsing or numbness. Sit with the awareness of the state of your body for the duration of a few breaths.
Imagine the path of your breath traveling in and out of your body. It warms you as it comes in, flowing through your nose, down your throat and into your lungs. Imagine that it keeps flowing down, warming you, descending down to warm your stomach, your pelvis, then radiating out through your limbs, all the way to the tips of your fingers and the ends your toes. Your breath travels through your entire body, and as you exhale, it relieves any tension that it finds and forces it out. Just like a warm ocean wave, your breath brings in relaxation and takes away tension. Feel these waves washing over you for a few moments.
Part One: The Introduction
Understanding through esoteric regression
Think back to a time when you felt small and alone. Perhaps you were a child and it was a time when you felt abandoned. Maybe it was a time when you felt somewhat powerless. It doesn’t have to be a dramatic event, simply return to a moment in time when you needed the intervention of someone bigger than you, stronger than you, wiser, and able to take care of you.
Envision yourself in the memory, allow yourself to visualize your surroundings. What do you see? Hear? Feel? Smell? What is going on? Allow yourself to see the scene as vividly as possible.
Now, image your adult self stepping into the scene—your nurturing self, you at your utmost level of confidence. Have this adult self assess the situation. What do you make of this scene? How are you making sense of what is happening?
Next, have this adult self intervene in some way. Maybe you do something in defense of yourself; maybe you say something that makes you feel less alone; perhaps you say something that provides comfort. Again, try to see this as vividly as possible.
Take note of how your vulnerable self experiences the intervention of this wiser adult self. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes as your nurturing self takes care of you. Is there anything you would like to say to this adult self?
Part Two: Creating Your Ideal
Mother or Father
Cultivating care from within
Allow yourself to imagine how this adult self, this person who you can vividly imagine as being your “inner parent,” can help you throughout your day. What would she do for you if her job were to take care of you with all her wisdom, compassion, strength and skills? Notice whatever thoughts come to mind about how she might care for you. Maybe a couple things would really change about your day. Try to picture these things and notice any feelings you have about the way that your day might be different.
Take note of any feelings you are having as you let these images come and go. Perhaps you are feeling some positive feelings, and perhaps there are some angry or frustrated feelings. Let all of your feelings be present and just notice them.
Part Three: Consistent Caregiver
Caring for your inner child has a powerful and surprisingly quick result: Do it and the child heals. —Martha Beck
Consider a point during your waking hours when you might want to be aware of your inner parent. It could be any time, but pick a situation that usually happens as a matter of your daily routine. Whatever the time or place, you can bring this person in by simply allowing yourself a few moments of reflection.
Now try to visualize the environment of this moment in as much detail as possible. What is happening at this time of day? What are the sights, sounds, smells, sensations of touch, temperature, texture, etc.? Think of your inner parent and visualize her presence. Imagine yourself having feelings about being aware of her, then resolve yourself in allowing this situation to trigger whatever thought you have of your inner parent so that you are able to feel her presence, sincerely and deeply, every day, at that time. Notice any thoughts or feelings you are having before you allow your awareness to return to the room
These concepts were used by permission from Dr. Deb Burgard. bodypositive.com
If you are looking to deepen your relationships and learn the basics of authentic communication (with yourself and others) take a look at this online course – Transformative Communication – an easy and life-enhancing approach for better relationships.