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Published on July 23, 2019

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

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Charles A. Francis

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

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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