“Nurturing Moments” and Clinical-Based Compassion Training

Contributed by: The Rev. Ali Van Kuiken

The following is a message of self care from the Rev. Ali Van Kuiken and the diocese’s Episcopal Mental and Spiritual Health Committee

I recently learned about a practice called “Nurturing Moment,” part of Emory’s Clinical Based Compassion Training (CBCT).

It involves identifying a moment of nurturance from our past and spending time sitting with that moment, noticing as much detail as possible from that experience—the sights, sounds, scents, physical sensations, and tastes.

Photo by The Very Rev. Dr. Caroline Carson

While learning more about this practice I realized it is, in a way, the opposite of a flashback, when we replay the sensory details of a traumatic experience. This practice allows us intentionally to enter into a space where we feel nurtured and taken care of. I often feel skeptical about these types of practices, but when I gave it a chance I felt not only more peaceful but also more connected to the people and circumstances that I had chosen for my nurturing moment.  Just as we can feed resentment by giving bad memories and experiences extra mental attention and energy, so we can also feed love and feelings of security by giving that mental energy to positive experiences we have had.

CBCT is a secular practice, but the concept can be easily applied to the practice of the Christian faith. When we dwell on the promises of God, we can increase our faith. When we spend time in prayer and contemplation, it can strengthen us for the challenges we face.

In the Harry Potter series, Harry learns to draw on the powerful magic of his happiest memories to create a patronus charm, which scatters the life-sucking, depression-inducing dementors. Take some time today to put your mental energy toward a positive memory of nurturance you have experienced. That is true self-care.

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