The essence of self-compassion is having total understanding, patience, respect, acceptance and if needed self-forgiveness for all of our life experiences. It is about directing love, kindness and sympathy to ourselves when we fail, feel inadequate, suffer or feel pain.
Rather than criticising ourselves, or suppressing the pain or suffering, we learn to honour the emotion, holding and sitting with it until the feeling runs it course. We open our hearts towards our self and then offer ourselves love, understanding and compassion.
Self-compassion means recognising that we are not perfect and sometimes fail and experience life difficulties. It means being gentle with ourselves when confronted with painful experiences rather then being angry when life falls short of our ideals. When this reality is denied or fought against, we may experience stress, frustration and self-criticism. When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional calmness is experienced.
We often find it easier to feel compassion for others than we do for ourselves.
Imagine if you could feel the same compassion for yourself that you feel for someone you love, such as a child, a parent, a partner, a friend or family member or a pet.
Here is a suggested exercise to practice compassion for yourself:
Compassion for your self
Close your eyes and take a few long slow breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Continue doing this until you feel relaxed and peaceful. Bring to mind a person, a pet or a creature that you love with all your heart and all your soul. Imagine how you would feel if they were unhappy or hurt. What happens to your body? You may feel your heart tug. You are feeling deep compassion for them. Note the feeling in your body, your emotions and in, your mind. Before you move on, see them happy and in perfect health and send them love over the airways.
Now turn to your attention to yourself. Is there any pain, suffering, conflict, emotion that needs your compassion in this moment now. Take another few deep breaths, expanding your heart centre and listen to the voice of your heart to see what comes up for you. Recall the emotional of compassion that you felt for another and turn that compassion and love towards your self and to the hurt, pain or suffering you have experienced. Expand the love in your heart and visualize loving arms extending out of your heart and wrapping around your body. Spend a few more moments here…. notice how you feel now. Take a deep breath and slowly return back into your body.
Note any obstacles to feeling compassion for yourself. You will often find that the obstacles provide the greatest learning experiences.
During our life we experience light and dark, the contrast enables us to appreciate the light and enables us to have a richer fuller experience of life on Earth. Appreciate each experience including the ones you where you feel hurt, angry, sad and regretful. Honour each emotion you feel and give it time to unfold. Respect each thought that arises, giving you the opportunity to feel and discern the truth about yourself and others and see the events in their context.
We can create rituals and ceremonies to help develop self-compassion.
For example, find a quiet place to sit in nature or in your home and hold a rose or a flower of your choice to your heart. Inhale the scent of the rose or other flower and relax in quiet contemplation.
You can repeat affirmations such as:
“I am whole, I am compassionate, I am loving.”
“I accept and love all parts of myself”
“I honour, love and respect myself always”
When you are sitting quietly, see what other affirmations arise. Listen to the voice of your heart and not your mind.
When we truly feel compassion for ourselves, we hold ourselves so closely that no separation remains within us. It means learning how to love our self first, holding all parts of our self through every present moment and in every circumstance. It requires softening of our hearts to accept that the gift of our own compassion is what we deserve to experience in relation to ourselves.
- Daily affirmations to remind yourself you are worthy of self-compassion and respect.
- Creating rituals or ceremonies to assist the practice of self-compassion.
- Notice how your body and emotions feel and the thoughts that arise when you feel compassion to others and to yourself.
- Be gentle with yourself, release the self-criticism and learn to accept all parts of yourself with grace and compassion.
Resources and Further Reading
‘Fierce Self-Compassion’ by Kirsten Neff
‘The Sophia Code: A Living Transmission from the Sophia Dragon Tribe’ by Kaia Ra
Author of ‘The Wonder of Stillness, Meditation for Children, A Practical Guide for Parents and Teachers;
ISBN 0781916099517. For more information see www.wonderofstillness.com
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