Serve and Return: Cultivate Self-Love Through Meditation
Ping and Pong. Send and Receive. Serve and Return. All word pairs that express the beautiful balance between giving and taking.
Thank you Karin Schrijvers of Bubble + Sprout for this guest post on not only offering love, but receiving love too, especially when we are feeling vulnerable. the series is a part of our partnership with family support, hammersmith and fulham, to bring yoga, mindfulness and brain building sessions to families through our om:pop.
Being responsive to a young child's babbles, cries, gestures and needs through eye contact, touch or words, is essential for the development of the child's social and communication skills. These Serve & Return interactions help strengthen the child's brain architecture (see Brain Architect).
A parent or caregiver of small children will usually find it quite easy to bounce back the ball to the child. But are we in a ready position to receive? Let's stop calling this bouncing thing a ball, and name it acceptance, recognition and love. It comes quite naturally to give these sentiments to our child or children. Feeding our own hearts and minds with them can be a little more challenging. Yet, how can we keep giving when the wellspring that is our heart feels depleted?
Cultivating self-love is a practice that takes patience and acceptance of our own vulnerability. The following brief meditation provides a platform to welcome in acceptance, recognition and love for our most vulnerable self. When we nourish the source, it will rebound with an abundance to give.
Sit in a comfortable position
Close your eyes
Rest your hands on your thighs, palms up
Touch thumb to index finger
Inhale to welcome in a connection to your heart
Exhale to connect with the hearts outside the confinement of your physical body
Your focused attention to the heart will bring it a sensation of warmth
Breathe in to receive acceptance in your heart centre
Breathe out to spread acceptance from your heart centre
Breathe in to receive recognition in your heart centre
Breathe out to spread recognition from your heart centre
Breathe in to receive love in your heart centre
Breathe out to spread love from your heart centre
Notice a longer exhalation. More giving and sharing.
Notice a longer inhalation. More to take in and give your self.
Honour where you are at this very moment
Let yourself be nourished by the practice of both giving and receiving
Continue to breathe in the warmth that you are receiving
Continue to breathe out the warmth that originates in your heart centre
Take a few more conscious, deep breaths with this heart focused attention
Drop your chin to your chest
Softly open your eyes and lift your head
Once you have expanded your awareness back into the space where you are sitting, notice whether you feel recharged and ready to keep ponging back each ping. Then remember that with a patient and accepting practice we can be our own brain architect as well as our children's.
Our Om:Pop series with Family Support Hammersmith & Fulham is brought to you by HERE in partnership with Bubble + Sprout, where we bring bespoke mindfulness, yoga and brain building sessions to families. Family Support, backed by the H&F Council, has an incredible mission, which is to help families in Hammersmith & Fulham thrive. This includes their “Brain Builders” initiative with activities and resources to help build your baby’s brain!