Self-compassion involves becoming aware of the presence of suffering in our bodies, emotions, thoughts, and actions—and then taking steps to diminish the suffering. Compassion is the natural and spontaneous feeling that arises when we witness suffering, and that triggers our taking action to alleviate the suffering. While it may sound easy, practicing compassion for ourselves is the more difficult of the two. Creating a practice to integrate self-compassionate feelings into your life can heal your mind and body, and open your heart to new heights.
Research indicates that cultivating self-compassion can contribute to beneficial physical, emotional-mental, and interpersonal changes, such as:
Set aside 15 minutes the first time you do this practice. Read through the sequence to get a feel for the flow of the practice before you begin. You will develop your own pace and rhythm as your practice grows, extending or decreasing the amount of time you need to get the most out of it.
As you notice that your attention has wandered elsewhere, gently encourage your attention back to the presence of the loved one at your heart center, and resume the practice of repeating each of the four phrases.
Repeat these or other phrases that feel natural to you, while cultivating an attitude of openness, acceptance, and loving-kindness.
At any time in your day, you can practice self-compassion, even if you only have 15 or 30 seconds. Whether you’re at work and feeling stressed, at home with your family, or anywhere you feel you need a little extra self-love, take a moment to activate self-compassion by bringing loving kindness to your awareness.
Form an intention to practice for seven consecutive days to see how the powerful the benefits can be. If possible, practice at the same time each day. After one week of practice, ask yourself:
Formally practicing each day generates, solidifies, and strengthens deeply positive experiences in your life that literally etch into the brain. Being compassionate with yourself generates acceptance of your humanness and the humanness of others, an essential quality for a fuller awakening. Your focus shifts from the time-bound personal narrative of the small ego-self to present-moment compassionate awareness. When you awaken self-compassion, you can strengthen your familiarity with your essential nature and reconnect with the vast fullness of the All/the One/the Ground of Being.
After a steady practice, you will find yourself more often spontaneously feeling self-compassion, even when you’re not practicing.