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Wednesday, October 25, 2017
I hope you have had the opportunity since last post to reflect on how and when you may or may not be self-compassionate. Studies show 80 percent of us treat others with more compassion and kindness than we offer to ourselves. When our friends have a bad day or are struggling, we jump in to support them in any way we can; when it's our own self who is having a bad day, or has failed at something, we generally beat ourselves up with self-judgment and self-criticism.
Some may fear that being self-compassionate will prevent them from accomplishing their goals and dreams, that self-compassion will breed laziness, self-pity or even selfishness. Research demonstrates that this is far from the truth. Self-compassionate people have greater motivation to improve, meet their own shortcomings and actually have greater compassion towards others.
It is important to remember that the practice of self-compassion isn't about suppressing or fighting difficult emotions. With self-compassion we can mindfully accept that the moment is difficult, give kindness and care to ourselves in response, and remind ourselves that imperfection is something all humans experience.
Practicing lovingkindness meditation is a nice way to practice self-compassion. There are many versions of this meditation available. This version is provided by author and Buddhist monk, Jack Kornfield. I hope whether you are new to meditation, or a seasoned pro, you will give it a try.
To begin, start in a comfortable sitting position. Let your body relax; let your heart be soft. Let go of any to-dos, plans, or other preoccupations. Breathe gently, and recite inwardly the following:
May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be at ease and happy.
Start with a two to three minute meditation, gradually working up to five, maybe even ten minutes. After creating a stronger sense of lovingkindness for yourself, you may expand the meditation to include a loved one. Simply replace the "I" with "you".
There is no doubt that this meditation may feel awkward at first. My hope I that you will be patient with yourself and give it a few attempts before you determine if this practice is for you.