“In This Moment” Blessing
Years ago, I interviewed Marci Shimoff upon the release of her book Happy for No Reason. Her story about interviewing a woman named CJ for her book has stayed with me ever since.
CJ had been very depressed for 15 years. She’d had lupus, an autoimmune disorder. She was in a great deal of pain and needed to use a wheelchair. In the midst of her misery, she felt like a victim of her circumstances.
One day, CJ heard about a loving kindness practice – a simple practice of wishing happiness and health to herself and other people. It was said to open up and soften the heart. CJ realized that her own heart was hardened by pain and her anger at the unfairness of life.
When CJ first heard about the practice, she thought, “I can’t do that. I can’t wish happiness and health to other people. I’m too miserable.” Fortunately, she was able to get to a place of deciding she had nothing to lose if she gave it a try.
What she did is this. Every morning, she would sit up in bed as soon as she woke up, and she would spend a couple minutes sending herself this wish: “May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.”
Then, throughout the day, she would silently send this same wish out to everybody she came across. She sent it to her friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even the people who passed her as they drove by. She didn’t tell others that she was sending them these wishes.
Marci said that after a year of doing this, we don’t know what happened to the people CJ sent the wish to, but here’s what happened to her. Her happiness level skyrocketed. She’s stopped using a wheelchair. She began exercising three times a week. She became completely symptom-free. The doctors told her that it was a medical miracle.
After hearing this story from Marci, I began this simple loving kindness practice. Over the years, through my work with individuals and communities deeply impacted by trauma and loss, I found myself adapting it in ways to help regulate emotions. Repeating these words helped me calm myself and invited others to downshift.
Today, I often repeat this simple mantra to myself:
“May I be safe. May I feel love. May I have hope. May I breathe with ease.”
Similar to CJ, throughout my day, I send these wishes out to those I pass. Other times, I use them as a practice of blessing those I hold in my mind – from those I love, to those with whom I have had conflict, to all of the people of the world.
Within my trauma response work, I also sometimes use this practice when I’m in the field as an invitation for others to give themselves permission to experience how their needs are being met within this moment:
“May you be safe. May you feel love. May you have hope. May you breathe with ease.”
At the virtual THRIVE Coffee House, Fridays are dedicated to self-care practices (with resilience tools and conversations with thought leaders on other days). All are welcome to stop by any time.
Last Friday, after leading an extended loving kindness meditation (explaining why I am so relaxed with my eyes closed for much of video…), I shared my brief “In This Moment” Blessing, followed by a few words about why practices like this are important for leaders and helpers.
During the moments of this current pandemic – and well beyond:
May you be safe.
May you feel love.
May you have hope.
May you breathe with ease.