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Lions Roar : July 2013
ILLUSTRATIONBYKATHERINESTREETER WHEN I WAS SEVENTEEN, A COUPLE hired me as a moth- er’s helper to take care of their infant. One night the parents were out, and the baby and I both fell asleep early. A few hours later, the infant’s hysterical crying woke me. When I went into the baby’s room and lifted her into my arms, I could feel her poor tense body shaking from crying so much. Holding her close, I felt such warm empathy for this baby I loved, and I tried to com- fort her with my voice. Suddenly, I felt a strong wave of tender- hearted compassion, almost like a surge of energy that seemed to flow out of my heart into her body. As soon as this happened, the baby melted in my arms. Her tiny body became heavy and limp, and she fell fast asleep. Such moments are routine for parents caring for an infant, but as I was still a teenager, I had learned something new about compassion. That was the first time I had experienced so viv- idly how expressing a sincere, tenderhearted love just might help someone find security. The very idea of the secure base comes from the model of a caring parent attuning to a child’s needs and making that child feel understood, loved, supported, and safe in the world. The people who love and care about us can prime this mode or emo- tional habit. If we find partners or friends who are sensitive, responsive, and caring, having repeated secure-base experiences with them It’s not a luxury to feel loved and cared for—it’s what makes us emotionally secure. If it didn’t happen when we were children, says psychotherapist TARA BENNETT-GOLEMAN, meditation can help us develop a secure emotional base now. Try a Little Tenderness SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2013 69