* Having Compassion for Ourselves

self compassion

“Self-compassion is a way of relating to the ever-changing landscape of who we are with kindness and acceptance—especially when we fail or feel inadequate … Self-compassion requires acknowledging that we share the human condition of imperfection.”   ~ Kristen Neff

How many of us learned about this when we were young? … How many of us are teaching our children about this? …

In today’s culture, especially in America, there is so much emphasis on self confidence, competing to win and striving for what you want in life. Yet, so much of it is out of our control.

We all know that mistakes happen and we don’t all win the prize at the end of the day.

How do you cope with these natural downturns and disappointments that are a part of all life? And how can we prepare ourselves for the inevitable lows of life?

Sara Neff and Tara Brach have so much wisdom and guidance on how we can come to a place of self love and acceptance as adults.

“In order to flower, self-compassion depends on honest, direct contact with our own vulnerability. Compassion fully blossoms when we actively offer care to ourselves. To help people address feelings of insecurity and unworthiness, I often introduce mindfulness and compassion through a meditation I call the RAIN of Self-Compassion. The acronym RAIN, first coined about 20 years ago by Michele McDonald, is an easy-to-remember tool for practicing mindfulness. It has four steps:

Recognize what is going on;
Allow the experience to be there, just as it is;
Investigate with kindness;
Natural awareness, which comes from not identifying with the experience.

You can take your time and explore RAIN as a stand-alone meditation or move through the steps in a more abbreviated way whenever challenging feelings arise.”

~ Tara Brach

self compassion

I have spent many years helping others find self acceptance and connection to their inner being. However, one the greatest tools I use, is not in our thinking mind at all.

The simplest way to allow compassion to flow and for the heart to open, is to sit quietly and place one or both hands above your heart center.

Take a moment and try it now.

This gesture activates a soothing response that we mammals have. It replicates the feeling of comfort, safety and nourishment at our mother’s breast.

As babies we felt it. As children we received comfort from a motherly hug. Yet, we don’t need someone else to bring about the same physical and emotional response.

You can give yourself this gift at any time.

You can also place a hand on your belly and let the breathe settle into the center of your being. When we breathe using the diaphragm, we activate the relaxation response in the para sympathetic nervous system. Anxiety abates as the brain releasing comforting hormones.

Connect to your breath and allow the nurturing energy to flow.


45 thoughts on “* Having Compassion for Ourselves

  1. Love this. I tried the hands over my heart center as I read your words. I felt the comfort instantly and then was reminded that I unconsciously do this when I am serious about getting to sleep at night. But what a wonderful comfort in the afternoon to just take a few moments and breathe. Thank you.

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  2. Self-compassion is a very new concept to me. I was never brought up that way. I felt responsible for everything that went wrong, as children do if not taught otherwise and carried this jugmental attitude of self into late adulthood. I discovered self-compassion in a wonderful book a few years ago and have been practising since. Wonderful post, Val. ❤

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  3. This is really beautiful and works so well Val 🙂 I have often used to lay my hands at my stomach, which seems to help me to calm down, when necessary. In meditation I have tried to place my hands at different places and the same is happening.
    Very wise Val and thank you for sharing 🙂

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  4. That’s a wonderful and powerful device or trigger, Val, a bit like very slightly lifting the edges of the mouth to create the subtle remnants of a smile when commencing formal meditations – again, the psychological trigger is instantaneous. I suppose these are like positively enhancing feedback loops: body>mind>body, and so on. I don’t know if you would see it like that? A somewhat artificial distinction, perhaps? H ❤

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    • You have touched something for me to explore here Hariod. 💛 I ask myself. How can we engage in a loop if the parts are integrated? I have a sense that there is no separation between mind and body, it is just that we have made it so… in our mind. The more I have tuned into the energy of the body, the more I appreciate the intelligence and knowing that resides outside of my headspace. xo

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      • I wholeheartedly agree, and to say the same thing as yourself but in differing words, then the thinking/memory aspect of our one beingness itself creates the false distinctions of immaterial mind and material body, almost as if they were ontologically (objectively) discrete categories with some sort of mysterious conduit between the two. That model is useful for communicative and learning purposes, but breaks down into meaninglessness ultimately. Just to be clear, I’m not a Hard Materialist or Physicalist; I’m saying the assumed categories of material and immaterial dissolve into irrelevance with no base point for either ultimately. [mass=energy, same difference, etc.] As for cranialism and all that, then I keep going back to my favourite question: where is awareness? Waffling here. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: Pssst… you are perfectly imperfect and amazing! | Alaskan Blueberry

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