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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 April 19, 2021

How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

How to Clear Your Mind and Be More Present Instantly

You may be wondering how to clear your mind. Maybe you are facing a tough presentation at work and really need to focus, or perhaps you’ve got a lot going on at home and just need to relax for a few minutes. Whatever the reason, having a clear mind can help you find your center.

The only problem is that you can’t completely erase the thousands of thoughts you have each day. The goal is to be able to observe those thoughts without engaging with each one of them.

The good news is that clearing your mind and returning to the present moment comes from a simple act of acknowledging that you’re overwhelmed in the first place. A path to better mental health and overall quality of life starts here.

What Happens When You’re Not Present?

We’ve evolved to keep looking and working towards a future goal. The very nature of our careers is to make sure that we’re setting ourselves up for the future. Our thoughts and, therefore, our habits and actions consistently point in the forward-moving direction, whether it’s in your relationship, career, or goals.

The point at which this becomes harmful is when we become too stuck in this forward motion and can’t reduce stress in the short or long-term. The result of this is burnout.[1] It’s a term that is most often used in the workplace, but burnout can happen in any area of our life where you feel like you’re pushing too hard and too fast.

The idea here is that you’re so engrossed in the forward movement that you take on too much and rest too little. There is no pause in the present because you have this sense that you must keep working.

On a physical plane, the body takes a real hit with burnout. You feel more muscle fatigue, poor concentration, insomnia, anxiety, poor metabolism, and so much more.

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These symptoms are the body’s way of throwing you red flags and warning you that you must slow down. But because your mind is so preoccupied with this forward momentum, it disconnects you from listening to your body’s signals. The only time you really hear them is when the signals are too loud to ignore, such as during serious illness or pain.

As we can see, not being present is something that snowballs over time. Eventually, it can cause serious mental, emotional, and physical ailments. 

To help you deal with this, you can check out Lifehack’s Free Life Assessment to see where you may be off balance. Then, you can check out the points below to keep moving in the right direction.

How Do We Come Back to the Present?

Answering this question will answer the question of how to clear your mind because they go hand in hand. There are many tools you can use to begin a mindfulness practice.

To reiterate, mindfulness is simply defined as the act or practice of being fully present.[2] Tools that allow you to step into this practice include meditation, journaling, a body-centered movement practice such as Qigong, or simple breathing exercises.

Underneath it all, however, is one technique that acts as a universal connector, and that is acknowledgment. This term may not sound like a technique, but its power truly flourishes when put into practice.

For us to come back to the present moment, we have to acknowledge that we have trailed off into the past or the future. Likewise, for us to clear our mind, we have to acknowledge that our mind is overwhelmed, distracted, or scattered.

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This simple act of pausing and catching ourselves in the moment is how we can build our acknowledgment practice. So, the next time you find yourself overwhelmed at work with mental to-do lists, pause. Acknowledge your state of mind and say to yourself that you’re overwhelmed. This sends a signal to your whole being that you’re aware of what’s going on.

It cuts the cords of illusion, denial, and ignorance. You are now building your awareness of yourself, which is an incredibly potent gift.

How to Clear Your Mind

Now that you’ve acknowledged where you are and how you feel, you can take action and learn ways to clear your mind. You can take a few moments away from your desk or to-do list, and practice something to ground yourself back into the present moment.

1. Take a Walk

Grounding yourself can be as simple as taking a walk and admiring the changing of the leaves. This practice is also known as “forest bathing,” and it doesn’t necessarily need to take place in a forest. It can be in your favorite park or even walking around your town or neighborhood.

Bring your attention to the senses as you enjoy your walk. Can you tune in to the sounds of your footsteps on the earth? Can you notice the smells and take in the sights around you while staying present in the moment? Can you touch a leaf or the bark of a tree and allow the texture to teach you something new?

Such a practice does wonders in clearing your mind and bringing you back to the now. It also connects you more deeply to your environment.

2. Box Breathing

As you’re learning how to clear your mind, a mind-clearing practice may look like sitting down and going through a nourishing meditation or breath practice. Breathing is, honestly, the easiest and best way to clear your mind. Even taking a few deep breaths in and out and feeling and noticing the breath will bring you right back to the present moment.[3]

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In yoga, we call this breath Same Vrti, meaning a 1:1 breath ratio. It can also be translated as “box breathing.” The idea is to make the length of your inhales and exhales the same, as this allows you to take in more oxygen and slow down the chatter of the monkey mind. It also kicks on the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and digestion, offering many health benefits in the long run.

This will allow your heart rate to slow down so that you can reduce any anxiety you may be feeling. It also aids in digestion, as the metabolism is back on track, and helps you physically process food and drink properly.

3. Add Meditation

how to meditate and clear your mind is also helpful when you want to clear negative thoughts and relieve stress. In fact, following your breath is a meditation in itself. Adding a visual, like imagining gentle ripples on a lake or clouds passing along a beautiful blue sky, can give the mind something to attach to without running through the train of your thoughts.

On the other hand, if you are mentally overwhelmed and meditation sounds like more stress, tuning in to a guided meditation session can be alleviating. It often helps to hear the voice of a teacher or guide who can walk you into more peace and contentment with their words and energy. If you can’t find such a guide in a local studio, turn to the many meditation apps on your phone, or YouTube.

4. Write Your Thoughts

Alternatively, another powerful practice for when you’re learning how to clear your mind is sitting down and writing out all of the thoughts in your head. We call this a “brain dump,” and it is an effective method for simply releasing your thoughts so that you can mentally breathe and process things better.

Grab a piece of paper and write out all of the thoughts that are pressing for your attention. The idea is not to analyze the thoughts or fix them, but to give those thoughts an exit so that you can move on with your day without fixating on them aggressively. This can look like a laundry list of thoughts, or a diary entry.

Afterward, feel free to close your journal or rip up the paper as part of your stress management. You don’t need to hold on to what you wrote, but it does help to see the expression of what you’re holding on to mentally. Likewise, this practice is very potent to do at night before bedtime. So many of us struggle to sleep soundly with many thoughts bouncing back and forth, and this exercise before bed can allow us to enter a deeper level of rest.

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Regardless of what you do, understand that practicing mindfulness is a lifelong process. With life’s ups and downs, it’s stressful to attach yourself to the practice of being mindful and in the present moment because it’s never guaranteed that you will be present for 100% of your life.

In this practice, what matters more than anything is intention. Our intention of staying present and sticking to our mindfulness practice is what will encourage us to keep coming back to it, even when we forget.

Final Thoughts

With the thousands of thoughts that we have in our head each day, it can sound overwhelming to even tackle this and try to learn how to clear your mind. The technique, however, is powerful, simple, and effective.

It all comes down to first recognizing and acknowledging that we are overwhelmed, stressed, or far away from the present moment. That acknowledgment acts as a wake-up alarm, inviting us to examine our state of mind and take action.

In this way, not only are we clearing our minds in a manner that works for us, but we’re also building our self-awareness, which is a beautiful and powerful way of being in the world.

More Tips on How to Clear Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Elijah Hiett via unsplash.com

Reference

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