Without that balance and a strong back, we can tend to close our hearts and harden our soft front.
Through her research, Brené Brown has found that the most compassionate people are also not afraid to set healthy boundaries.
In the following interview, Brené Brown talks about the relationship between empathy, compassion, and boundaries:
Kristin Neff, who’s well known for her research and work on self-compassion, has more recently introduced the concept of fierce self-compassion. The idea that being compassionate with ourselves and others doesn’t mean that there aren’t times when we need to be fierce and set boundaries. It’s about finding the balance and the understanding that it’s not an either/or.
In addition to the balance between compassion and fierce self-compassion (boundaries) the concept of the soft front, and strong back is also helpful when we think of going through challenging times.
Joan Halifax explains that having a strong back and soft front “is about the relationship between equanimity and compassion”.
A strong back is about equanimity and our capacity to uphold ourselves, especially during difficult times.
It means we are cultivating an ability to maintain a calm mind with emotional and mental stability. It enables us to be grounded, rooted, and strong while remaining flexible, adaptable, and open to change.
The soft front is about opening to things as they are. It’s about accepting life as it is rather than longing or worrying about the future and wishing things were different. Cultivating this quality within ourselves enables us to remain open to life without shutting down or collapsing.
When we cultivate a strong back and soft front within ourselves, we can weather the storms of life with strength, wisdom, grace, and an open heart. We develop the ability to actually grow as a result of the challenges.
We unite the qualities traditionally associated with the feminine way of being—gentleness, empathy, receptivity, and sensitivity—with those traditionally associated with the masculine way of being—courage, independence, and assertiveness.
What I’ve noticed in my own life and in the work that I do with others is that we tend to have it reversed. It’s common for us to have a weak back that results in us crumbling during difficult times and then, as a result, we have a hard front. We close our hearts and resist life as it is.
I invite you to spend 10 minutes listening to the Strong Back, Soft Front guided meditation. You can incorporate this practice into your existing meditation practice, or you can use it like a mantra throughout your day- reminding yourself to meet life with a strong back and a soft front.
10 Minute Strong Back, Soft Front Guided Meditation:
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As a master's prepared nurse turned contemporary meditation teacher and coach, Bev offers meditation and mindfulness practices that are based on ancient wisdom but adapted for modern times - for people with busy lives. Bev's guided hundreds of folks around the world to make the shift from feeling stressed and disconnected to thriving from the inside out and becoming the best version of themselves. Bev's own personal journey has taken her upward to one of the highest mountains in the world AND inward to the deepest parts of her soul. Bev's the author of Awakening a Woman's Soul: The Power of Meditation and Mindfulness To Transform Your Life.