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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

The Beginner’s Guide to Practicing Self-Compassion Meditation

The Beginner’s Guide to Practicing Self-Compassion Meditation

Many of us who want to make a positive impact on the world try to have compassion for other people. But how many of us ever think about directing that compassion toward ourselves? Probably very few. The idea usually brings up thoughts of being self-absorbed or self-centered.

But, what makes us less deserving of our compassion than other people? If we want to achieve a higher level of personal development, which includes real happiness and inner peace, then we need to be able to have compassion for all people, and that includes ourselves.

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” — Buddha

In this article, I’ll show you how to practice self-compassion meditation, so you can realize happiness and inner peace. I’ll include a self-compassion meditation script with suggestions on how to use it for maximum effectiveness. But before we get into the practice, it would be a good idea to understand what self-compassion is, and its many benefits.

What Is Self-Compassion?

When we have compassion for another person, we are aware of the person’s suffering, and we want to do something to alleviate it. This shows that we care enough about them to want to help.

Compassion also means that we are aware of the imperfect nature of being human. We realize that people have faults, and we don’t judge them harshly when they make mistakes.

As the term implies, self-compassion is compassion directed at ourselves. It is the same as compassion for another person. Intellectually, it sounds pretty straightforward, but actually putting it into practice can be a challenge.

So when we have self-compassion, we have an objective awareness of our own suffering, and we do what we can to ensure our well-being. In addition, we are not overly critical of ourselves, as we accept our mistakes and try to learn from them.[1]

Self-Compassion Is Not Self-Pity

Self-pity is an egocentric wallowing in our own problems, where we usually dismiss any realistic solutions. We allow our feelings to consume us, and just want attention and pity from others.

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With self-pity, we’re not able to see our problems objectively. We are too consumed by our emotions to see clearly. We’re in a state of mental and emotional confusion.

When we’re in self-pity, we don’t see our suffering in the broader context of the human condition. Therefore, we feel alone in our problems.

Self-Compassion Is Not Self-Indulgence

In our attempt to be good to ourselves, we may overindulge in activities that bring us pleasure. For example, we may reward ourselves for something good that happened to us by eating a quart of ice cream.

Remember, self-compassion is about taking care of our health, and not indulging in sensual pleasure or emotional gratification. Some things that are good for us may not be pleasurable, such as dieting or quitting smoking.

Some people may be afraid to do something that is truly for their benefit, because they’re afraid of failure. This is often the case with dieting. They don’t take into consideration the fallible nature of being human.

Self-compassion not only provides you with motivation for change and growth, but also with the ability to accept yourself when you fail.

Self-Compassion Is Not Self-Esteem

Self-esteem

is about feeling good about ourselves based on our perceived value. We all want to like ourselves, and that’s okay. But that is not the same as self-compassion, and the desire to care for ourselves in a healthy manner.

As a matter of fact, self-esteem can be either healthy or unhealthy. It all depends on how we acquired it. Did we put other people down in order to make ourselves feel better? Or, did we help someone during a difficult time.

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Now, self-compassion can lead to a healthy self-esteem, but just be aware that they’re not the same.[2]

Why Practice Self-Compassion Meditation?

There are many benefits of practicing self-compassion meditation. These benefits have been confirmed by scientific research.

Emotional Well-Being

People who are self-compassionate tend to have a better outlook on life. They know they’re taking good care of themselves, so they’re happier, and feel better about themselves.

In general, they love themselves, but not in an egocentric way. They love themselves in the same way that they love their partner, or family member. They love themselves unconditionally.

Physical Health

Self-compassion leads to a better lifestyle, and therefore, better health. People who cultivate self-compassion eat healthy, engage in physical exercise or activity, and good hygiene. By taking good care of themselves, they avoid the health consequences of neglect or abuse of their body.

Mental Health

Self-compassion also leads to better mental health. Self-compassionate people know how to manage stress, and are able to focus better. They are more optimistic, motivated, and feel a greater social connectedness.[3]

How to Practice Self-Compassion Meditation

There are several effective methods by which you can develop self-compassion, such as comforting your body, writing a letter to yourself, giving yourself encouragement, and mindfulness.[4] Here we’re going to focus on self-compassion meditation.

I’ve developed a meditation script specifically for self-compassion and unconditional love. What the meditation does is reprogram your subconscious mind to be more loving and compassionate toward yourself. Once the affirmations of the meditation are ingrained into your subconscious, they will manifest themselves in your thoughts and actions without any conscious effort.

There are several ways you can practice self-compassion meditation:

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  1. Read the meditation. Begin by sitting quietly and follow your breathing for a few minutes. You can also listen to soft music if you prefer. Once your mind has settled down a bit, read the meditation script either silently or out loud.
  2. Listen to the meditation. You can either listen to someone else read the meditation script, or make a recording you can listen to at any time. In fact, listening to affirmations in your own voice is highly effective for personal transformation.
  3. Write the meditation. Simply write the meditation script by hand in a notebook.

So which method is the most effective? I would say writing the meditation is the most effective because you’re applying several senses to assimilate the meditation—sight, touch, and hearing (if you verbalize it as you read and write it). In general, the more senses you apply, the more the affirmations of the meditation will be imprinted into your subconscious mind.

What I would recommend is that you write the meditation by hand for about 10 to 15 minutes per day. You are welcome to do it longer if you want. You probably won’t get through the entire script in that time, so just write as much as you can during the allotted time, and then pick up where you left off in your next session.

Though you’ll see results in just a few days, it’s important to continue doing the meditation consistently for at least a couple of months in order for the changes to become permanent.

Self-Compassion Meditation Script

Here is the self-compassion meditation script:

As I continue on my journey through life, I am becoming an evolved human being. There is a beautiful person within me wanting to emerge. May I allow this wonderful person to shine through, and see him/her each time I look into the mirror.

What I Deserve

I am aware that I deserve unconditional love and compassion. May I be loving, kind, and compassionate toward myself. May I be happy and joyful. May I be peaceful and free from mental, emotional, and physical suffering. May I live long, and have healthy loving relationships.

Forgiving Myself

I am aware that as a human being, I am fallible, and so are the other people in my life. May I be forgiving of my own mistakes, as well as those of others. May I see my mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. May I be patient and understanding.

Caring for My Body

As I develop compassion for myself, I will take good care of my body. May I learn which foods and nutrients nourish my body and mind, and lead to optimal health, performance, and longevity. May I have the strength to make healthy choices in my diet in order to realize good health.

I will rejoice in my successes, and will not feel guilt, shame, or remorse over minor lapses.

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May I incorporate sufficient physical activity into my daily routine to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being. May I be mindful of substances such as alcohol, tobacco, unnecessary medications, and other substances that are obstacles to my personal growth, and have the strength and courage to let them go.

Caring for My Mind

I am aware that a peaceful mind is the key to good mental and emotional health. May I develop that peaceful mind through meditation, and living mindfully in the present moment. May I cultivate a quiet and peaceful environment, so it allows my mind to calm down naturally.

May I be aware of the great wisdom that is within me, and allow it to emerge through a peaceful mind. May I learn to cherish peace and quiet.

Caring for My Emotions

I am aware that there is a reason for each of my emotions. May I have the inner strength to look at the sources of my painful emotions, so I can transform and be free of them. May I have the inner strength to not depend on pleasure and emotions as my sources of happiness, but rather on a peaceful mind.

May I always remember that I deserve love and compassion from myself. Just as other people are deserving of peace, love, and happiness, so am I. May I be courageous in dealing with difficulties, and always meet with success. May I be diligent and committed to my personal development. May my True Nature shine through, and onto all beings I encounter.

End meditation script.

Final Thoughts

To many of us, practicing self-compassion may seem a little strange. However, it is essential if we want to realize our full potential, and this includes living a happy, healthy, and peaceful life.

We can learn to care for ourselves in a way that is not self-centered or selfish, if we’re able to get past our false humility.

Self-compassion meditation is another powerful tool to help you in your personal development. It’s easy to practice, and you’ll see fast results. And if you stay with it, it will literally rewire your brain for better care of yourself throughout your life. This is something you’ll truly come to appreciate as you get older.

More About Meditation

Featured photo credit: Ester Marie Doysabas via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Self-Compassion.org: Definition of Self-Compassion
[2] Self-Compassion.org: What Self-Compassion Is Not
[3] Wellness Mama: Talking to Yourself With Self-Compassion (& Why It’s Healthy)
[4] Health Harvard: The Power of Self-Compassion

More by this author

Charles A. Francis

Author, meditation teacher, and director of the Mindfulness Meditation Institute

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

How to Cope With the Stages of Grief and Heal After Loss

How to Cope With the Stages of Grief and Heal After Loss

The death of a loved one is, unfortunately, something most of us have experienced or will experience at some point in our lives, but grief and loss are not felt only when someone passes away. You may move through the stages of grief quickly or slowly, and you may even find yourself moving back to a stage you thought you had passed. People grieve differently, and there is no correct way to grieve in any situation.

A close friend or family member moving away, a divorce or breakup, loss of a job, as well as a number of other life experiences can cause feelings of grief or loss. Coping with loss is one of the most stressful and difficult things we have to deal with in life, but it is an experience everyone can relate to.

The Stages of Grief

The five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—are related to the common emotions we go through when we experience loss. This grief model was identified by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969[1].

However, because everyone is different, there is no “standard” way to react to grief and loss.[2]

Some people will wear their emotions on their sleeves and be outwardly emotional. Others will experience their grief more internally, and may not cry. You should try not to judge how a person experiences grief, as each person will experience it differently.

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Stages of grief

    Stage 1: Denial

    The feeling of shock when you first find out about a loss can lead to thinking, “This isn’t real.” This is a temporary way to deal with the rush of overwhelming emotion and a defense mechanism for your mind.[3]

    Stage 2: Anger

    Feelings of frustration and helplessness take hold during this stage. Thoughts like “It’s not fair” can be common. Even being angry at your loved one who died for “leaving you behind” is natural. This anger can spill over into your close relationships, and you can find yourself getting angry at those around you for no apparent reason.

    Stage 3: Bargaining

    During this stage, you are constantly thinking about what you could have done to prevent the loss. Thoughts of “What if…” and “If only…” replay in the mind. You might also try to bargain with a higher power in hopes of reversing the loss.

    Stage 4: Depression

    This stage brings the deep sadness you feel as you realize the loss is irreversible. You think about how your life will be affected by the loss. Crying, loss of appetite, feelings of loneliness, and unusual sleeping patterns are all signs of depression.

    Stage 5: Acceptance

    You accept the loss, and although you’re still sad, you slowly start to move on with your life and settle in to your new reality.

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    The stages of grief don’t have to be in this order, and you might not experience all stages. There is also no set time period for grieving, and some people take longer to heal than others.

    How to Heal From Grief and Loss

    When you’re experiencing those heartbreaking feelings and the stages of grief, it’s hard to believe that you’ll eventually heal, but you really will. Here are some ways to help the healing process:

    1. Confront the Painful Emotions

    Try not to bottle up your emotions. Allow yourself to express how you feel. It’s a healthy part of the grieving process.[4]

    If you’re not ready to get together with friends and family to talk about how you’re feeling, you can work with your emotions through mindful meditation, which can help create space for you to take a look at what you’re feeling and why.

    2. Talk About It

    When you’re ready and have entered the final stages of grief, talking to someone about the way you are feeling can be very helpful in starting the healing process. Often, people want to isolate themselves while grieving, but being around friends and family can help. Talking can also help you to confront your emotions if you have been unable to.

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    3. Keep up With Your Routine

    Loss can make you feel like your world has been turned upside down. As you move through the stages of grief, getting through your daily routine may feel more difficult, which can cause you to put self-care to the side. Keeping up with your routine can help bring back some normality and ensure you are showing yourself love and consideration.

    4. Take Care of Yourself

    When you are grieving and depressed, simple things like eating become an afterthought, and sleeping may become difficult. Taking care of yourself and your health will help with the healing process.

    While you may not do everything you were doing before your loss, try to do one act of self-care each day. It can be taking a long bath, going for a walk, making a nice meal, or even practicing a hobby once you feel ready. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated; it just needs to be something that makes you feel good.

    5. Don’t Make Any Major Decisions

    Grief clouds the ability to make sound decisions.[5] Try to postpone making any big decisions for a while or get guidance from close friends or family if you can’t put it off.

    Grief may also make you feel like making major changes to your life, such as quitting a job or ending a relationship. Try to remember that now is not the best time to make these changes, and hold off further consideration until you have moved through all of the stages of grief.

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    The Bottom Line

    It is important to heal after a loss so that you can get on with life. There is no set time period for grieving, but if you feel that your grief isn’t getting better, and you are unable to accept the loss, it might be time to seek advice from a mental health professional.

    In the meantime, accept that now is a difficult time, but that it will get better. Time will inevitably help and make the pain less powerful. One day, you will wake up and realize the pain is simply a small echo in the back of your mind and that you have successfully moved through each of the stages of grief. It’s time to get back to your life.

    More on Dealing With the Stages of Grief

    Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

    Reference

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