The art of composting involves taking all of the dead, rotten stuff in your life and turning it into nutrition and fuel. This composting practices has allowed me to understand my behaviour through a compassionate lens and then be proactive about providing myself that which I am seeking.
- Begin by calling to mind a ‘bad habit’ or negative behaviour in which you would like to compost.
- Next make a list of at least 10 good things you are getting out of this negative behaviour (it could also be a thought as well). This is often very difficult at first as we tend to carry so much shame and guilt. However most of our negative behaviour is a result of avoiding painful or uncomfortable experiences and seeking pleasurable ones. This is one of our most basic operating systems; Avoid pain and seek pleasure. What I have discovered is that there is a payoff for most of my bad habits and behaviours. I started to notice this in raising children, that much of their bad behaviour was a need for attention, learning to extend this consideration to myself and other adults was a little more difficult. For example gossiping was a behaviour I wanted to stop doing because I always felt terrible afterwards. When I sat with it I realized that there was something pleasurable I was getting from gossiping, otherwise I would not be doing it. When I talk about other peoples ‘issues’ it makes me feel better about my own. On my list of positives I wrote ‘confidence’ and ‘validation”. I also noticed there is a bit of a gang mentality associated with gossiping so I wrote ‘acceptance’ and ‘fitting in’. As I continued to explore I noticed jealousy associated with many of my competative behaviours including gossiping so I wrote ‘worthiness’ ‘attention’ ‘love’……….you get the picture
- Now make a list of at least 5 negatives (this is typically way easier). Notice the tendency to become extremely self-critical here. Self-criticism is often a way many people motivate themselves, however in studies self compassion and kindness has been shown to be a more effective motivator than self-criticism and has also been shown to actually increase will-power where as self-criticism actually has been shown to decrease will-power.
- Finally beside all of the positives write a way you could provide yourself with what you are seeking. For example if attention is on your list, brainstorm some creative ideas of how you could give yourself some attention, like sitting down and enjoying a good meal, going for a walk, a nice bath or whatever you enjoy doing. It can be elaborate and luxurious or short and simple. Repeat this process for everything item on your list. Instead of beating yourself up for making mistakes or your bad habits practice some self-compassion. Understand that you are only human and instead of focusing on fixing, correcting or bettering yourself, consider practicing some kindness and self-love.
SETTING AN INTENTION: PLANTING NEW SEEDS
Take a few minutes to sit or lie quietly with your breath. When you feel like the mind has become quiet and the tension in the body has dissolved, place one hand on your heart and one hand on your low belly. Breathe into these spaces and feel what is there underneath your hands.
Ask the question, “What do I desire?” or, “What do I need?”
Allow whatever answer is there to arise. Don’t judge, think about it too much, or analyze the answer. Let your heart be heard. Sometimes this answer may still arise from a place of ego, superficiality, or lack. However, it is important to be wherever you are in the process and practise accepting whatever arises. With practice you will slowly get closer to your heart’s true desire. Recite whatever comes up in the present tense a few times. Create a marriage between your breath and this intention; allow it to defuse into your various layers of tissues and being.
Throughout the day randomly check back in with your intention. Are you still in alignment? If not, what decisions could you make that honor your heart.