Strong back, Soft front

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Roshi Joan Halifax developed this practice in relation to her work with the dying, but I think it can apply in any workplace.  In meditation practice we develop our capacity to sit still, settle into, and be held up by, the body, rather than our habitual relating to life from just our thinking mind. The strength of the spine allows us to support ourselves. We can then carry this supported sense into whatever our workday brings, keeping an open, soft, welcome for whatever each moment brings. Whenever something challenging is encountered, we can remind ourself of our inner strength by quietly saying to ourselves, “Strong back”. Rather than retreating into a position of defensiveness or fear, we open to things as they are:

All too often our so-called strength comes from fear not love; instead of having a strong back, many of us have a defended front shielding a weak spine. In other words, we walk around brittle and defensive, trying to conceal our lack of confidence. If we strengthen our backs, metaphorically speaking, and develop a spine that’s flexible but sturdy, then we can risk having a front that’s soft and open, representing choiceless compassion. The place in your body where these two meet – strong back and soft front – is the brave, tender ground in which to root our caring deeply.

Joan Halifax

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