Early last month I received an invitation to participate in an unusual study. Its purpose was to determine the impact on participants’ fears and feelings of well-being of a simple, five-minute daily practice called, “The Three Treasures Practice.”
Because one of the designers of the study was a former mentor and instructor of mine, Ann-Marie McKelvey, whom I like very much and trust deeply, and because I only had to invest five minutes a day for two weeks, I agreed. Who can’t clear five minutes in their day?
The practice is called “The Three Treasures Practice,” by the way, because it draws on the disciplines of loving-kindness meditation, EMDR (a therapy technique for reducing the effects of trauma), and positive psychology.
My immediate response to the practice, after I received the instructions and did my first session, was, “Wow! That was easy - and do I feel great!” But it was only after the first full week of doing my daily sessions that I began to see the incredible power of the practice.
Before beginning it, we participants took a brief survey that had us identify one of our biggest fears and to rate it, and the negative feelings that went with it, on a scale of 1-10. I rated my fear at a 5. But my feelings of grief and sadness over it scored a 9. To my surprise, by the end of the first week, all my scores dropped dramatically. I was looking at the situation from an altogether different perspective.
By the end of the second week, my fear and the sadness and grief were hardly at play at all in my life. I felt free from my concerns and saw clearly that if the situation I had feared did materialize, I would be able to deal with it as if unfolded. I thought about the old adage that most of what we worry about never happens. And even when it does, it rarely takes any of the forms we imagined. All my apprehensions had done nothing but waste time I could have spent enjoying life in the present.
I ‘knew’ all of that about worry before I began the practice. But I worried anyway, and was deeply attached to my concerns. What you know in theory is far from the things you learn from experience. The Practice simply melted my worries away. Life became lovelier and more vibrant again. Day by day, I was effortlessly moving into a broader, easier world.
It’s been six weeks now since I started The Three Treasures Practice, and my understanding of its beauty and power has only deepened in that time.
I won’t know for a little while what the final results of the study were. I’m eager to discover whether the experience of the other participants mirrored mine. And when I find out, I’ll share the news.
My own experience with the practice has been so profound that I wanted to share it with you. And I’m delighted to say that the developers of the practice and of the study have given all the participants full permission to share it.
So consider this happy invitation to try it yourself. Make a commitment to give it a full two-week try. And you, too, may want to write down what you biggest fear is and rate its intensity from 1-10, where 10 is complete, abject fear, and 0 is no worry. Then think about the feelings that accompany your fear. Does it make you feel any of these emotions: Loss? Anxiety? Grief? Sadness? Anger? Loneliness? Which ones? Rate those, too, so you can see the changes in your life at the end of the first week and at the end of the second.
Remember that the practice is designed not only to ease your fears, but to heighten your sense of well-being, too. So write down the following feelings and rate each of them from 1-10 as you’re experiencing them right now: Joy, Peace, Openness, Love, Connection, Kindness, Trust, and Happiness.
You don’t have to do that part. But if you do, it will give you a way to evaluate how the practice is working for you.
Now here are the actual instructions for the practice, as given to those of us who engaged in the study:
Instructions for The Three Treasures Practice
1. Sit comfortably in a quiet environment. Take deep inhales and deep exhales as you settle.
2. Cross your arms over your chest and place your hands on alternate shoulders like a pharaoh. [Right hand on left shoulder; left hand on right shoulder.]
3. In a determined way, gently and slowly tap each shoulder one at a time. Tap so that it is loud enough to hear. This is called the EMDR Butterfly Hug.
4. As you perform the Butterfly Hug, silently or out loud say to yourself for five minutes:
“May I now be filled with loving kindness.”
“May I now be safe and protected.”
“May I now be resilient in mind and body.”
“May I now live with ease and joy.”
The Loving-Kindness Meditation is an ancient tradition that goes back thousands of years. Although the phrases may differ from culture to culture, the basic principle is to alleviate suffering. Please use the positive LKM phrases above for the next 14 days* along with the Butterfly Hug for five consecutive minutes each day.
If you have trouble remembering the words, please print them on a card to look at during you initial repetitions.
Should you find yourself become drowsy, please stand up to do the practice until the five minutes have transpired.
* The 14 day part was for participants in the study. Two weeks of daily practice will provide you with enough experience to judge whether the practice is something you want to continue. If you’re like me, your inner answer will be a definite “Yes!”
Try it, and then come back and leave your comments. I would love to know what your experience is with this beautiful and, in my view, very powerful exercise.
Photo credit: photo credit: http://www.rgbstock.com/photo/miL159C/~+Winter+Sunrise+2