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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 May 22, 2020

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

What Makes a Good Leader: 9 Critical Leadership Qualities

The word “leader” makes you think of people in charge, high-ranking people: your boss, politicians, presidents, CEOs…

But leadership really isn’t about a particular position or a person’s seniority. Just because someone has worked for many years doesn’t mean s/he has gained the qualities and skills to lead a team.

Getting promoted to a managerial position doesn’t automatically turn you into a leader either. CEOs and other high-ranking officials don’t always have great leadership skills.

So what makes a good leader? What are the characteristics of a leader?

Good leadership is about acquiring and honing specific skills. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model for a team in any environment. With great leadership qualities, successful leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, or in the workplace.

The following are some of the many characteristics great leaders exhibit.

1. A Positive Attitude

Great leaders know that they won’t have a happy and motivated team unless they themselves exhibit a positive attitude. This can be done by remaining positive when things go wrong and by creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere in the workplace.

Even some simple things like providing snacks or organizing a team Happy Hour can make a world of difference. An added perk is that team members are likely to work harder and do overtime when needed if they’re happy and appreciated.

Even in the worst situations, such as experiencing low team morale or team members having made a big mistake at work, a great leader stays positive and figures out ways to keep the team motivated to solve the problems.

Walt Disney had his share of hardships and challenges, and like any great leader, he managed to stay positive and find new opportunities. In 1928, Disney found that his film producer, Charles Mintz, wanted to reduce his payments for the Oswald series. Mintz threatened to cut ties entirely if Disney didn’t accept his terms, and Disney chose to part ways. But in leaving Oswald, Disney decided to create something new: the iconic Mickey Mouse[1].

The key is to break down huge challenges into smaller ones and find ways to tackle them one by one.

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Think about the lessons you can learn from the mistake and jot them down because sometimes you win, and sometimes you learn.

2. Confidence

All great leaders have to exhibit an air of confidence if they’re going to succeed. Please don’t confuse this with self-satisfaction and arrogance. You want people to look up to you for inspiration, not so they can punch you in the face.

Confidence is important because people will be looking to you on how to behave, particularly if things aren’t going 100% right. If you remain calm and poised, team members are far more likely to as well. As a result, morale and productivity will remain high, and the problem will be solved more quickly.

If you panic and give up, they will know immediately and things will simply go downhill from there.

Elon Musk is a great example of a leader with confidence. He truly believes that Tesla will be successful, which he has shown many times through his actions. He converted 532,000 stock options at $6.63 each, their value on Dec. 4, 2009, before Tesla went public. It was a hefty bargain considering Tesla’s stock price stood at around $195 per share at that time. He doesn’t apologize for his beliefs and has drawn fire from just about everyone for his political actions.

You can’t instantly become a very confident person, but all the small things you do every day will gradually make you more confident:

  • List 5 things you like about yourself every day (something different every day), and you’ll appreciate yourself more.
  • Work on your strengths and do your best to enhance them.

3. A Sense of Humor

It’s imperative for any kind of leader to have a sense of humor, particularly when things go wrong. And they will.

Your team members are going to be looking to you for how to react in a seemingly dire situation. It would probably be best if you weren’t stringing up a noose for yourself in the corner. You need to be able to laugh things off because if staff morale goes down, so will productivity.

Establish this environment prior to any kind of meltdown by encouraging humor and personal discussions in the workplace.

As a president, Barack Obama exuded confidence and calm during stressful situations. But he was also known for his “dad jokes,”[2] his genuinely funny speeches at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, and appearing on Zack Galifianakis’s Between Two Ferns.[3] Obama’s sense of humor made him grounded, realistic, and honest, which no doubt helped during some tense moments in the White House!

Learn to laugh at yourself. Confident people laugh about their own silly mistakes, and when you do this, others will also trust you more because you’re willing to share your experiences.

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Be observant and learn from the jokes others make. You can also get a lot of inspiration from the internet.

4. Ability to Embrace Failure

No matter how hard you try to avoid it, failures will happen; that’s okay. You just need to know how to deal with them.

Great leaders take them in strides. They remain calm and logically think through the situation and utilize their resources. What they don’t do is fall apart and reveal to their team how worried they are, which leads to negative morale, fear, and binge-drinking under desks.

Great leaders do, in fact, lead, even when they’re faced with setbacks.

Henry Ford experienced a major setback after designing and improving the Ford Quadricycle. He founded the Detroit Automobile Company in 1899, but the resulting cars they produced did not live up to his standards and were too expensive. The company dissolved in 1901. Ford took this in stride and formed the Henry Ford Company. The sales were slow and the company had financial problems; it wasn’t until 1903 that the Ford Motor Company was successful and put the Ford on the map.

Get to the root cause of any problem so you can prevent it from happening again and learn from the mistake.

By asking “why” 5 times (or more) on why something happened, you can find out the key factor that caused the problem and can find the best solution to tackle the problem.

You’ll also learn how to prevent this from happening again in the future after finding out a problem’s root cause.

5. Careful Listening and Feedback

This is far more complex than it actually sounds. Good communication skills are essential for a great leader. You may very well understand the cave of crazy that is your brain, but that doesn’t mean that you can adequately take the ideas out of it and explain them to someone else.

The best leaders need to be able to communicate clearly with the people around them. They also need to be able to interpret other people properly and not take what they say personally.

The Dalai Lama, as a symbol of the unification of the state of Tibet, represents and practices Buddhist values. The Dalai Lama’s leadership is benevolent and aims toward truth and understanding, alongside the other Buddhist precepts. This is a great example for all leaders: if you want to give good directions to others, you have to get feedback from others to understand the situation properly.

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Encourage communication between team members and establish an open door policy.

Practice not interrupting team members when they’re talking. Instead, summarize what they say and ask for feedback after you have talked about your ideas.

6. Knowing How and When to Delegate

No matter how much you might want to, you can’t actually do everything yourself. Even if you could, in a team environment that would be a terrible idea anyway.

Good leaders recognize that delegation does more than simply alleviate their own stress levels (although that’s obviously a nice perk). Delegating to others shows that you have confidence in their abilities, which subsequently results in higher morale in the workplace, as well as loyalty from your staff. They want to feel appreciated and trusted.

Although Steve Jobs was known for focusing in on the smallest of details, he knew how to delegate. By finding, cultivating, and trusting capable team members, Jobs was able to make Apple run smoothly, even when he had to be absent for extended periods of time.

To know when and how to delegate work to team members, you have to be very familiar with each of them:

  • List out all of their strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.
  • Talk with your team members more to know about their passion and interests.

Take a look at this guide and learn more about delegation: How to Delegate Work Effectively (The Definitive Guide for Leaders)

7. Growth Mindset

Any good leader knows how important it is to develop the skills of those around them. The best can recognize those skills early on. Not only will development make work easier as they improve and grow, it will also foster morale. In addition, they may develop some skills that you don’t possess that will be beneficial to the workplace.

Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.

Pope Francis has been unusually popular with many Catholics and many non-Catholics. His position isn’t totally traditional, which is part of his appeal, but he also has admirable leadership skills. Pope Francis’s TED talk[4] drew attention because he encouraged leaders to be humble and to demonstrate solidarity with others. This inclusive, kind, and respectful style of leadership is incredibly important for any situation.

It’s important to spend time talking with other team members individually to understand them.

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Find out team members’ current challenges and try to give feedback and encouragement so they will grow and do better.

8. Responsibility

Great leaders know that when it comes to their company, work place or whatever situation they’re in, they need to take personal responsibility for failure. How can they expect employees to hold themselves accountable if they themselves don’t?

The best leaders don’t make excuses; they take the blame and then work out how to fix the problem as soon as possible. This proves that they’re trustworthy and possess integrity.

Howard Gillman is the chancellor of UC Irvine. You might have heard of how the university rescinded a bunch of acceptances, and then changed its mind[5], This past spring, an unusually high number of accepted students decided to matriculate; the school initially responded by rescinding offers over things like missed deadlines. But the college realized this was a mistake and reversed its decision. Gillman and the university accepted responsibility and decided to move past their earlier bad decision.

Always ask yourself what you can do better or what you should change. Take responsibility and think about what you can do better to prevent this from happening next time.

9. A Desire to Learn

It’s safe to say that all great leaders will have to enter unchartered waters at some point during their career. Because of this, they have to be able to trust their intuition and draw on past experiences to guide them.

Great leaders know that there’s always something to learn from everything they have experienced before. They are able to connect the present challenges with the lessons learned in the past to make decisions and take actions promptly.

You can either recall what you’ve learned from your memories or search your notes (ideally, a software that you can access anywhere with things well-organized).

Warren Buffett, one of the richest people in the world, has mostly made the right calls. But in dealing with huge amounts of money, Buffett has also made several multi-million (and sometimes multi-billion) dollar mistakes. He has stated that buying the company Berkshire Hathaway was his biggest mistake[6]. From that poor choice, he realized that it was unwise to pursue “improvements” and “expansions” in the existing textile industry. Despite mistakes like this, Buffett has invested wisely, and it shows.

To effectively learn from the past, write down lessons you’ve learned from any mistakes you’ve made. Have all the lessons well organized, and when similar things happen again in future, take these lessons as references.

The Bottom Line

Leadership traits are learnable. If you practice consistently, you can be a great leader, too.

Make small changes to your habits when you work with your team, wherever that may be. Most of us aren’t presidents or CEOs, but we all work with other people, and our actions always impact others. This gives every person the chance to develop leadership skills and to stand out from the crowd.

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Featured photo credit: Markus Spiske via unsplash.com

Reference

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