I need a new bed partner.

Editor Suzy Greaves is procrastinating about getting into bed because she doesn't like her bed-fellow. Here she works at finding a new partner to sleep with.

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I have a big imagination, which is a great asset – especially in my job. But the down side is that I can find myself imagining worst case scenarios – especially when I’m tired. I think that’s why I might avoid getting into bed and end up faffing around in the house. I don’t want to share my bed with my inner pessimist – especially when he’s being mean – mostly about me.

However, I’ve just been reading an inspiring book A Fearless Heart: Why Compassion is The Key to Greater Wellbeing, by former Tibetan monk Thupten Jinpa (the English translator for The Dalai Lama) His book explains that by connecting to our compassionate part of ourselves, we can anchor ourselves in a happier, less stressful, more fulfilling life.

So I’ve been experimenting with a compassion meditation every night for the last month to find the antidote for that ‘self hatred that comes from caring a lot but being unable to accept or forgive our imperfect selves’. Based on the scientifically proven Compassion Cultivation Training course at Stanford University School of Medicine, the benefits of this kind self compassion meditation are huge and scientifically proven – avoiding burnout, pessimism and despair, creating goals that are based on our true needs and wellbeing rather than with what society or certain people think or expect from us, plus of course, compassion is a perfect antidote to self-pity. Instead of asking ‘why me?’, we realise ‘I am not alone’, as we feel empathy for others’ struggles and problems.

I have worked with this simple meditation technique (below) and found it very good for putting me to sleep! (One night, I was reading the mantras that I’d typed on to my iPad and then found myself waking up the next morning with the light still on and the iPad still on my chest! I hadn’t moved a muscle.)

I’ve been doing this meditation for about a month now and have been finding it incredibly transformative. Life feels bursting with possibilities. It’s like someone has turned down the dial on my negative self-talk and my inner pessimist has found someone else to sleep with.

Here’s the simple meditation that I tried:

Start with deep breathing into your belly. Inhale slowly and deeply and then exhale in a long, measured breath. Repeat five to ten times. Keep your focus on your breathing.

Now choose a pace of breathing that is not shallow but also not forced. Now start counting your breath. Initially count up up to five or ten breaths, gently bringing your attention to your breath when your attention wanders.

Now think of someone you love – be it a person or a pet. Notice how you feel in your heart about this person and silently repeat the following phrases, pausing after each line:

May you be happy…

May you be free from suffering…

May you be healthy…

May you find peace and joy.

Repeat for three to five minutes.

Then turn your attention to someone ‘neutral’ perhaps someone you don’t know or someone you saw in the news and then bring then front and centre in your mind and repeat your mantra:

May you be happy…

May you be free from suffering…

May you be healthy…

May you find peace and joy.

Repeat for three to five minutes.

Then turn this round to yourself. Imagine yourself as a small child. Visualise yourself front and centre of your mind.

May I be happy…

May I be free from suffering…

May I be healthy…

May I find peace and joy.

Repeat for three to five minutes.

Finally contemplate this thought: ‘Everyone on this planet, not just myself and those I care about, shares the same fundamental aspiration to happiness and the same wish to overcome suffering. Just like me every wishes to achieve happiness. Just like me, everyone wishes to be free of pain, fear, and sorrow. Just like me, everyone seeks to fulfil their basic aspiration to be happy and free from suffering.’

Now filling your heart with the wish that all beings be free of suffering, silently repeat these phrases:

May all beings be free from suffering…

May all beings be free from pain and sorrow…

May all beings be free from fear and anxiety…

May all beings experience peace and joy.

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Suzy Walker

Editor of Psychologies, Psychologies

I am proud to be editor of Psychologies, a magazine that champions, challenges and coaches us to think differently so we can solve our own problems and create a life that nourishes us. Author of Making The Big Leap and The Big Peace, Suzy believes that the secret to happiness is living life to the full right here, right now, committing to a few goals now and again and taking Oscar, the Psychologies dog for a walk round the field when it all gets a bit too much.


Go to the profile of Diane Priestley
over 6 years ago
A very beautiful, touching article. I agree empathy and compassion are super powers that can heal ourselves, our relationships and our world....and help us sleep peacefully! Bless you Suzy for sharing this meditation.