So as my time at Cambridge draws to a close for this academic year I thought I’d share a technique I was taught while I was there called a self-compassion break. The day that I typed this blog post I really needed one …..
As Kristin Neff explains:
“Self-compassion is a relatively new psychological construct derived from
ancient Buddhist contemplative psychology. Self-compassion has three main components: (1) self-kindness, (2)a sense of common humanity, and (3) mindfulness. Self-kindness entails being warm and caring toward ourselves when things go wrong in our lives. Common humanity recognizes the shared nature of suffering when difficult situations arise, rather than feeling desperately alone. And mindfulness refers here to the ability to open to painful experience (“this hurts!”) with non-reactive, balanced awareness.” (source: germer-neff_-trauma)
When you notice that you’re feeling stress or emotional discomfort, see if you can find the discomfort in your body. Where do you feel it most? Make contact with the sensations as they arise in your body.
Now say to yourself, slowly:
This is a moment of suffering – that’s mindfulness. Other options include:
- This hurts
- This is tough
Suffering is a part of living – that’s common humanity. Other options include:
- Other people feel this way
- I’m not alone
- We all struggle in our lives
Now, put your hands over your heart, or wherever it feels soothing, feeling the warmth and gentle touch of your hands.
Say to yourself:
May I be kind to myself – that’s self-kindness. See if you can find words for what you need in times like this. Other options may be:
- May I accept myself as I am
- May I give myself compassion that I need
- May I learn to accept myself as I am
- May I forgive myself
- May I be strong
- May I be safe
If you’re having trouble finding the right language, sometimes it helps to imagine what you might say to a dear friend struggling with that same difficulty (pause)
Can you say something similar to yourself, letting the words roll gently through your mind?