Savouring your values

Steve Hickman, clinical psychologist.


 NOTE: This transcript may have been automatically generated using software and, as such, may not be completely accurate.

I’d like to invite you to consider what’s present in your heart just now.

What emotions are arising? Perhaps you’re feeling uncomfortable and easy. Suffering in some way. Weighs on your heart or ways on your mind. Maybe you are attending to things around you in your immediate environment or in society at large or in the world. Perhaps you are feeling, fear, discontent, outrage, nervousness, unsettledness, worried, angry.

Making room for whatever feeling is arising in you and perhaps you will notice the thoughts that come with this feeling.

Maybe even the thoughts come first.

Take note of whatever is unsettled in your life and in your mind just now. It might be quite difficult. So just reminding yourself that you can meet whatever is present in your life with some degree of ease and patience and even curiosity.

If you’re willing to go slow to be kind to yourself, to comfort and soothe yourself as needed, and to decide just how much you can manage in this moment. Gently opening or closing your heart to just the right amount that allows you to meet what’s arising with some degree of presence and self-compassion. You don’t need to plunge into the hardest feelings, but neither do you need to avoid them completely either. Could you just make a little space in your heart for whatever is already here.

And as you notice what’s here, maybe you can actually label it. Maybe it was one of the labels I mentioned earlier. Anger, frustration, irritation, fear, outrage.

Whatever it is.

If you can name it for yourself in a kind and gentle voice, “Oh, I’m feeling anger. I’m aware of resentment arising. I’m noticing fear is here.”

And notice the tone of voice that I use, seeing if you can name whatever emotion is present for you the way you might name it for a dear friend who is struggling in much the same way. Oh, oh, you’re feeling grief. You’re feeling fear. And notice, perhaps, the language that I’ve chosen, that we are naming the presence of these emotions and not connecting directly to them. We don’t say, “I am afraid,” but instead saying, “Ah, fear is arising.” We are not our emotions, but we certainly experience them. Just as when you walk out into the rain, you don’t say “I am rain,” but you may say “it’s raining.” See if you can name the strongest difficult emotion that’s present for you just now.

And here is perhaps the most important point of this meditation. Consider that whatever difficult, strong emotion is present for you just now, something you may be struggling with. The reason it’s arising is because there’s something underneath, something that is deeply held and valued by you.

So if you are angry at injustice, that means down deep inside what you value very dearly is justice. If you’re feeling fear of your safety, what you value is safety and comfort. If you fear for the future of our planet, for example, what you value is security, safety, nature. If you are outraged at politicians and leaders for their positions, regardless of what they are, look a little closer and see what is the value underneath that leads to this level of suffering.

Maybe you value fairness or opportunity or compassion or wisdom. What is a core value that leads you to have these strong feelings? We only have strong feelings about things that really matter to us. So the invitation here is to consider what matters to you. If justice matters, if fairness matters, if kindness matters, if security, safety matter, if nature matters.

And you make some space for that value, treasure that value, even savor that value. Perhaps there is an image that arises in your mind’s eye associated with that particular value. Perhaps if it’s a nature, there is a favorite place in nature that brings you joy and satisfaction. Maybe calling to mind that place. If you are somehow feeling unsafe, insecure where you are because you value safety and security. Where is a place that you feel safe and secure?

If you’re valuing fairness, opportunity, what is it that represents these qualities, these values when you call them to mind. Maybe you can visualize a world that is fair.

Whatever that may mean for you, a situation that becomes equitable to all those involved. I think yourself feel what it feels like to fully embrace this deeply held value.

Maybe noticing how it feels in your body. If you’d like, consider going just a little bit deeper and a little bit further back into your history and considering how did you come to hold this value?

Who influenced you?

What events led you to this place?

Who inspired you?

How were you inspired to hold this value of justice or fairness or compassion or kindness.

What were the experiences?

Who were the people?

How did you come to be in this place of treasuring this value?

And finally, considering this possibility, with this value firmly entrenched in your heart, you’re merely held in your mind and your mind’s eye honoring the roots, the contributors to this important value, this thing that you hold so precious and sacred in your heart.

Can you let it strengthen you? Empower you? Embolden you to find a way forward to do whatever it is within your power to do, to align with this value. Even when it feels like the task is insurmountable is too huge, what is the one small step that you might be able to take in your own world in service of this deeply held value? And can you feel strengthened by making space for this value? Maybe making a vow to yourself to remind yourself of this value every day to keep you strong, resolved, committed to what is most important to you. This does not have to be a passive exercise. This is reminding us of what strengthens us, what supports us, what means something to us, and provides a guide for how to manifest it in the world, in whatever form, being empowered by embracing and savoring our values, rather than becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of the task and the things that we cannot change just now.

Taking a moment to drop into this body to breathe, to appreciate this being human, to appreciate these deeply held, deeply important values, to savor and appreciate them and let them energize us, to be the change we wish to see in the world, to quote Mahatma Gandhi. Coming from a place of kindness and compassion for others and especially for ourselves.

And as you’re ready, if your eyes have been closed, allowing them to open, give yourself a little time to pause and reflect and consider returning to this savoring our values practice from time to time to touch in, to reconnect to what’s most important to us underneath the suffering and the struggle, the things that we wish for in our lives, in our society, in our planet, reconnecting to this inner strength and letting it empower us to do whatneeds to be done, what is possible to be done, and perhaps letting go of what we cannot change.

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