I grew up in the era of "The Sound of Music." After watching the film many times, I can still hear Julie Andrews (who played the main character, Maria VonTrapp) citing all of her "favorite things" in a song of the same title.
Calling upon "favorite things", I believe, may be an act of profound self-compassion. When we are feeling afraid, worried, or anxious it is good and wise to turn the mind toward something more steady; something that is comforting, familiar, even nourishing.
I found myself doing this often in the last week. My youngest daughter underwent emergency surgery at University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor, and, of course, I flew to her side. There were a number of days sitting by her bedside in the hospital, waiting for the prescribed follow-up treatment to kick in.
I never really found myself anxious or worried (though her situation was a high-risk one) and I'm certain this was due to my many years of mindfulness training and practice. AND because when uneasy feelings did arise, I set the intention to examine them, and to offer myself a good sized dollop of self-compassion because what we were going through WAS difficult.
(I also knew that modeling this to my daughter would help her cope with all the unwanted, potentially frightening things that were happening to her. )
When you are in the midst of an ongoing difficulty (like illness or hospitalization), consider tuning into your favorite things. What are they? When the going gets tough, what kind choices can you make for yourself to bring you back to equanimity? To tend to yourself well and kindly?
Here are a few of the "favorite things" we accessed while in the hospital:
Short walks to places of interest: the coffee shop, the gift shop, and our ultimate favorite, an arboretum in the Heart Center. This was an extraordinary place of "inner beauty" that felt so very healing just by being there. Bamboo trees filled the space. I've heard bamboo has a very high "vibration" energetically. I believe it.
Treats: coffee, dessert, comfort food (mac and cheese!), anything that brought a sense of delight again
Naps: stretching out under heated blankets for a bit of rest
Tablet time: watching reruns of the original "Star Trek" TV series; watching episodes of "The Living Planet" narrated by Sir Richard Attenborough (his voice always put us to sleep)
Mindful meditation: simply being with what was, listening, paying attention to and resting in the breath
Fun & Laughter: recounting memories, noticing funny things people said or did, Facebooking cute doctors (my daughter is single and 25, need I say more)
What we turn our attention toward expands our experience, either enriching it or making it more difficult. The choice is always ours. What could have been one of the most challenging experiences my daughter and I have ever been through together was transformed into a time of bonding, discovery, and present-centered appreciation because of our intention to be mindful and self-compassionate—and compassionate toward one another.
Life is good, even when it's difficult, when our favorite things are within reach. May it be so for you.
is a touchpoint. a resting place, a "remembering" of who we really are and how we can best live—kindly and compassionately with ourselves and others.
Janice Lynne Lundy, DMin
is an educator, interspiritual director/guide and retreat leader who has been pointing people back toward the Sacred for more than twenty years. She is the author of several spiritual growth books, including Your Truest Self, My Deepest Me and Portable Peace., and is the co-founder and co-director of the Spiritual Guidance Training Institute.