For some people, meditation might seem like an impossible feat but take heart, and you are not alone. The point of it is to keep trying. Especially if you are working on practicing self-compassion, there is no need to start putting quarters in the butt-kicking machine because you are not transposed into a constant state of nirvana the first couple of times you try it.
That being said, self-compassion meditation is a practice that can be done anywhere, anytime, and requires no props or prep work. For example, you can do it while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting at your desk. The key is to make yourself comfortable, close your eyes (if possible), and focus on your breath. Once you have done that, you can begin to repeat a phrase or mantra to yourself.
When we practice self-compassion, we extend caring, gentle, and supportive thoughts and words to our bodies and minds. We treat ourselves with forgiveness and acceptance. We recognize our moments of pain and imperfection are shared by all of humanity. We can build character in ourselves, our schools, our community, with our peers, and everywhere our life leads us.
Some examples of phrases you can use are:
- “Breath in peace, breath out worry”
- “Breath in faith, breath out fear”
- “Breath in love, breath out anger”
You can also use a simple “om” or “ahh” sound to help you focus. The point is to find a mantra that works for you and allows you to focus on the present moment.
When your mind begins to wander (and it will), simply bring your focus back to your breath and repeat your mantra again. The goal is not to clear your mind of all thoughts but rather to become more aware of the present moment and to find a sense of peace and calm.
A phrase that works really well for me when my mind wanders is, “Minds wander; that’s what they do,” That also helps me practice self-compassion during meditation because the phrase gives me “permission.” Another one to help with that is, “Permission to be human, permission to practice, permission to do B- work.” That “B- work” part is personal to me as I have struggled with perfectionism, and the B- reminds me that I do not have to have all “A’s” in everything I do.
Self-compassion meditation can be a helpful tool in managing stress, anxiety, and negative self-talk. It can also help increase feelings of self-worth, happiness, and overall satisfaction.
What are the 3 core elements of practicing self-compassion?
- Self-kindness vs. Self-judgment
- Common humanity vs. Isolation
- Mindfulness vs. Over-identification
What is compassion meditation?
Known also as Karuna Meditation, Compassion Meditation is deeply rooted in Buddhist philosophy and guides participants toward compassionate thoughts. It is a method for connecting with suffering — our own and others — and for awakening the inherent compassion in all of us.
Of course, the practice of compassion meditation typically begins with the development of self-compassion. Once we have a more solid foundation of self-compassion, we can begin cultivating compassion for others. The goal is to eventually feel connected to all beings and experience the world with an open heart.
There are many ways to meditate on compassion, but one common method is focusing on a particular person or situation. Start by picturing the person or situation in your mind and repeating a compassion mantra. The goal is not to fix or change the person or situation but simply to offer them kindness and understanding.
Some examples of compassion mantras are:
- “May you be happy”
- “May you be free from suffering”
- “May you be safe and protected”
- “May you be healthy and strong”
These bring to mind a phrase a friend shared with me if you are struggling with forgiveness, anger, or resentment:
- “I forgive you”
- “I release you”
- “I wish you no harm”
- “I send you love”
When we offer compassion to others, we open our hearts and minds and connect with our shared humanity. We begin to see the world differently and feel more connected to all beings. Compassion meditation can be a powerful tool for personal transformation and making the world a kinder and more compassionate place to live and be in.
What causes lack of self-compassion?
A history of serious trauma is one of the most common reasons for a lack of self-compassion. Whether this trauma occurred in childhood or adulthood is of little concern. Either way, this mental and emotional damage can scar us in ways that make us feel unlovable and overwhelmed.
We may also have difficulty being compassionate toward ourselves if we grew up in homes where self-compassion was not modeled or encouraged. We may have been told that showing compassion toward oneself is selfish, weak, or foolish. As a result, we internalize these messages and learn to be hard on ourselves instead.
Perfectionism is another common obstacle to self-compassion. If we think that we must be perfect in order to be worthy of love and respect, then we will beat ourselves up mercilessly whenever we make a mistake. I have recently come to understand this part of myself and its negative consequences. We typically have a hard time accepting help from others, too, as this would mean admitting that we are not perfect.
What is the difference between self-esteem and self-compassion?
Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves. This includes how much we like or value ourselves and is often based on comparisons with others. In contrast, self-compassion is not based on favorable judgments or evaluations; it is a way of relating to ourselves, including kindness and understanding.
Self-compassion is not the same as self-pity. When we feel self-pity, we see ourselves as victims who are misunderstood and mistreated. This usually leads to wallowing in our misery, focusing on the problem and not the solution. In contrast, self-compassion does not mean denying our difficulties or ignoring our faults. Instead, it means acknowledging our shortcomings and treating ourselves with compassion and understanding.
What is self-compassion meditation?
In conclusion, self-compassion is essential in life and in practicing mediation. It is the willingness to be open and vulnerable with ourselves in order to connect with our common humanity. It can be a powerful tool for personal transformation and making the world around you a more peaceful space to be.