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Healing through Self Compassion

Brandon Haskin
Guest Blogger
Life's journey is often marked by trials and tribulations, and for many of us, these challenges leave lasting imprints on our mental health. As someone who has battled the shadows of trauma, I want to share how meditation and basic Buddhist practices have been the guiding stars that illuminated my path to healing. Though it hasn't been an easy road, the fusion of meditation's serenity and the wisdom of Buddhism has granted me the strength and resilience to navigate through my darkest days.

I remember the trepidation that enveloped me as I began my meditation journey. The notion of sitting still with my thoughts seemed insurmountable. My mind was a battlefield, the echoes of traumatic memories constantly reverberating. It was tough to focus on my breath, let alone find solace within. Yet, there was an unyielding determination within me to give it a chance, to seek a glimmer of light amidst the shadows that haunted my soul.

In the early days, my practice was inconsistent, to say the least. I would immerse myself in meditation fervently for a few days, only to let it slip away as the chaos of life engulfed me. Guilt gnawed at me, feeling like a failure once again. I had to learn that every stumble was an opportunity to grow, and self-compassion would be my ladder to climb toward consistency.

I'll never forget the day I confided in a friend about my struggles. Instead of judgment, they offered understanding. They reminded me that the journey of healing was gradual and that even a few moments of meditation had value. I decided to release the burden of perfection, embracing the practice with patience and an open heart.

Throughout my healing, I explored various meditation techniques. Mindfulness, loving-kindness, and body scan meditation were among them. Some felt like a perfect fit, while others left me feeling disconnected.

During a meditation workshop I attended, a new world opened up to me when I encountered the body scan meditation. With each breath, I focused on different parts of my body, gently unraveling the knots of tension that trauma had woven into my being. This practice grounded me in the present moment, freeing me from the grip of the past.

As my meditation practice deepened, I delved into the teachings of Buddhism. The wisdom and compassion it offered resonated with my soul, transforming the way I approached my healing journey.

Buddhism's principle of non-attachment taught me to observe my traumatic memories without identifying with them. I realized that my past did not define me; it was an experience that shaped me, but it didn't have to hold me captive. By embracing non-attachment, I freed myself from self-blame and found the strength to move forward.

Through loving-kindness meditation, I discovered the power of compassion. Initially, directing love toward myself felt uncomfortable and foreign. But, little by little, I embraced the practice of offering myself forgiveness and love, accepting the flawed human that I am. In time, I extended this compassion to those who had caused me pain, releasing the heavy burden of anger and resentment.

The Buddhist teaching of impermanence reminded me that emotions, like all things, are transient. I began to see my trauma-related feelings as fleeting clouds in the vast sky of my consciousness. This awareness brought a sense of relief, knowing that I didn't have to cling to pain forever. Equanimity taught me to face the ups and downs of healing with emotional balance, embracing life's ever-changing nature.

The practice of mindfulness, rooted in both meditation and Buddhism, became a cornerstone of my daily life. I learned to be fully present, immersing myself in each moment without judgment. Mindfulness allowed me to ground myself during moments of emotional distress, enabling me to detach from the painful memories that haunted me.

Over time, I began to perceive my trauma in a different light. I stopped seeing myself as a victim and, instead, embraced the idea of a survivor - one with the strength to transform pain into growth. On a particularly challenging day, during meditation, anxiety engulfed me as I was triggered by a painful memory. Instead of running away from the feelings, I decided to sit with them. I observed the anxiety rise and fall like waves on the shore, recognizing its impermanence. This simple act of mindful acceptance empowered me, showing me that I was stronger than my trauma.

With time, meditation's influence extended, permeating my everyday life. I practiced mindfulness while walking, eating, and conversing. This newfound awareness allowed me to respond to triggers with measured calmness, promoting healthier interactions with the world around me.

As I reflect on my journey of healing, I see how all of this has played a pivotal role in my transformation. It wasn't an overnight fix, but a gradual process of self-discovery and self-compassion. The fusion of meditation's calming embrace and Buddhism's profound wisdom empowered me to embrace my past without letting it define my future. Through this ongoing journey, I have found the strength to heal and the courage to grow, ultimately reclaiming my life from the pain of trauma. Though the path ahead may remain uncertain, I walk it with the understanding that I hold the key to my own healing.

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