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Behavioral Health Services Column - May 20

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In celebration of May is Mental Health month, it is very pertinent in this current time, to practice lots of self-care, to let go of resentments, and to ease our suffering. Meditation is a simple practice that can help us calm, “re-boot” and find balance in our lives. This is something you can give yourself; you don’t need special tools, just a quiet, comfortable space and be willing to offer your full attention. There are many guided meditation apps available, but we encourage you to try the one below.

This classic loving-kindness meditation can help you be thoughtful toward yourself and develop empathy for others. You don’t have to like everybody, or agree with everything they do - but you can open up to the possibility of caring for them, because our lives are inextricably linked.

Begin by breathing in deeply and fully, in a rhythm that feels comfortable to you. Repeat this a few times. For this moment, let go of thoughts about what you think you “should” be doing or worries about what will happen in the future.

Now think about someone who has been helpful to you - maybe they’ve been directly generous or kind, or have inspired you though you’ve never met them. When you think of them, they make you smile. Bring an image of the person to mind, or feel their presence as if they’re right in front of you. Say their name to yourself, and silently offer these phrases to them, focusing on one phrase at a time.

May you live in safety

May you have mental happiness (peace and joy)

May you have physical happiness and freedom from pain 

May you live with ease

Don’t struggle to fabricate a feeling or sentiment. If your mind wanders, simply begin again.

After a few minutes, move on to thinking about a friend. Begin with a friend who’s doing well right now and offer them the same phrases. Then switch to someone who you know is experiencing difficulty, loss, pain, or unhappiness. Offer them the same words of kindness.

Next, offer loving-kindness to a neutral person who you don’t feel a strong liking or disliking for: a cashier at the store, the person who takes your temperature before you enter your workplace, or a neighbor down the street. When you offer loving-kindness to a neutral person, you are offering it to them simply because they exist, you are not indebted to or challenged by them.

Now, offer loving-kindness toward a person with whom you have had difficulty with.To start, consider someone who has been mildly frustrating to deal with. Later, you may work toward offering kindness to someone who has hurt you more grievously. It’s common to feel resentment and anger, and it’s important not to judge yourself for that. Rather, recognize that anger burns within your heart and causes suffering, so out of the greatest respect and compassion for yourself, practice letting go and offering loving-kindness.

Finish this exercise by offering loving-kindness to yourself. You are richly deserving of support and empathy. Please say to yourself:

May I live in safety

May I experience peace, joy and happiness

May I have good physical health and freedom from pain

May I live with ease

Stay safe and well. If you would like to know more about mediation or mindfulness or are experiencing concerns with your own mental health, please contact Behavioral Health Services at (309) 836-1582. TeleHealth appointments are available.