How can you benefit from the practice of self-compassion?
In Chinese medicine, along with eating a balanced diet, exercising and sleep, there’s a strong focus on the importance of tending to your thoughts and emotions in order to achieve feeling healthy and content in life. There’s an emphasis on embracing a mind-body-spirit approach and addressing how your thoughts and emotions can aid and affect your healing.
When you experience difficult and all-consuming emotions, feel anxious or stressed it can show up in your body, your hormonal balance and menstrual cycle. Your body holds on to hurt, pain and trauma long after the initial experience. It’s how you respond to these experiences that determine the quality of your health and life experience.
There can be a tendency to push things down and keep going, to search for a ‘quick fix’. Modern living encourages you to work harder, stay busy, strive for more and aim to be the best. That you can have it all at the click of your finger tips. Often it’s hard to accept things don’t always go to plan. There are things in life that are out of your control. It’s good to explore how you respond when you feel difficult emotions, anger, disappointment, grief or loss? Ask yourself, is there a way you can invite some self-compassion, kindness and awareness into how you respond?
What is self-compassion?
According to Dr Kristin Neff, self-compassion is defined as,
“Being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure, rather than harshly self-critical; perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience, rather than seeing them as isolating; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness, rather than over-identifying with them.”
You are asked to give yourself the same kindness and care that you’d give a close friend during a difficult time.
How can you practice it?
In times of difficulty and pain, you can choose to try and push this pain down and fight against it, which will most likely make things worse. Or, if you are struggling with something right now, mindfully allow yourself to sit with that pain and hurt. Ask how would you treat a close friend in the same situation?
Acknowledge that this is difficult right now, offer yourself support and comfort. When you experience loving kindness and compassion you allow for growth and transformation to take place. Self-compassion doesn’t change the situation. What it does is tend to the stream of stressful thoughts or overwhelm that often accompany it. You feel gratitude for all that you have right now knowing that you’re not alone in facing this difficultly.
Begin to focus on your breath, feel your body in contact with the ground, feel the support of the earth beneath you. You may also choose to enjoy a cup of your favourite tea, cook your favourite meal, light some candles, enjoy a bath, walk in nature, practice yoga, whatever your body desires. If emotions are there let them come and go just as the breath comes and goes. By doing this you are practicing patience with yourself and providing yourself with inner space, reinforcing within you the habit of self-compassion. Giving yourself what you need right in this moment and planting seeds that will eventually grow and flourish into something beautiful.
- You are doing the best you can and when you know better, you can do better.
- You are where you are meant to be in life right now
- Listen to the pain, connect with the voice within
- Acceptance and gratitude are healing forces in your life
- Shift your mind from doing to being and receiving
- Be patient with yourself and trust that something good will come your way
- Seek support
“When a mind is in disorder, a disease cannot be healed”
– Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic