On my noticeboard is a small square of yellowed newsprint with a note addressed to me:

'Dear Jan, I have this notice on the wall. Hopefully, it will be helpful to you, too. “Compassion for others begins with kindness to yourself.” Mary.'

The letters are large and uneven but the commas are in the right places. I know Mary has problems with co-ordination, following a head injury from an accident, and I'm touched that she has taken the time to write to me.

Kindness to myself during a hard winter of grief and painful reminiscences has been an important theme. The Mindfulness course which I did earlier in the year has a Buddhist 'befriending' meditation which invited me to start with myself and radiate outwards to those I love, those I barely know, those I find difficult and to 'all beings' which comes full circle because that includes me.

It goes like this:

May I be safe and free from suffering.

May I be as happy and as healthy as it is possible for me to be.

May I have ease of being.

I emailed this to a young friend who was coping with the end of her relationship while on a tough assignment overseas. She seized on 'May I be as happy and as healthy as it is possible for me to be' because it allowed her to accept her grief at this moment while realising she will feel better in time.

The third line resonates for me – 'ease of being' sounds exactly how I would like to feel.