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Lions Roar : March 2017
The Art of Living Self-Care THÉRÈSE JACOBS-STEWART on how to rewire your brain to develop more self-compassion. A GENERATION AGO, it was widely believed by Western psychologists that adults were stuck with a happiness set point, an outlook on life developed in early childhood. Now we know that the brain can change throughout our lives. With mindful- ness training, we can etch new neural pathways for greater com- passion and satisfaction. This corresponds to a basic principle of Buddhism: every- thing is of the nature to change. That belief led Tibetan sages to develop a particularly effective method for cultivating compas- sion called lojong (mind training). This is a collection of pithy but profound phrases that, when held in meditation, stick in the mind and literally rewire our brains. Few practices have as deeply touched the shadowy corners of my psyche, the harsh places that hold shame. Even when distressed, I can grab onto one of the slogans, repeating it in my mind. And in my clinical practice, I witness the power of lojong on others. Here are three lojong slogans for developing self-compas- sion. Hold them in your mind. Breathe them in and out. Walk in meditation, mentally reciting the slogan with each step: Rest in the openness of mind. With this slogan, we rest in the vastness of Big Mind, watching our less-than-compassionate thoughts pass through. In psycho- logical terms, we are learning to dis-identify with our shame- based narratives and the stories of our inner critics. Six Buddhist therapists offer practical advice for overcoming obstacles and enhancing your life. ILLUSTRATIONS BY ANDRÉ SLOB LION’S ROAR | MARCH 2017 60