Today, I'd like to share something close to my heart, an essential practice that has transformed my life - the practice of self-compassion through meditation. It's something I've found to be a profound source of motivation, a balm for procrastination, and a catalyst for nurturing relationship ever since my dad passed in 2008. Mindfulness meditation has saved my life and it has given me the coping tools to live a full and happy life after the most traumatic experience ever.
What is self-compassion, you ask? It's about embracing ourselves with kindness and understanding, even when we stumble or fall. It's about replacing self-criticism with self-acceptance. It isn't about being self-centered or lowering our standards; on the contrary, it's about empowering ourselves to reach new heights.
Now, you might wonder, how do we cultivate self-compassion? Well, the answer is simple yet profound - through the practice of mindfulness and meditation.
I still remember my early days with meditation around 6 months after my dad passed. Honestly, it felt like an uphill battle filled with resistance, distractions, and a fair bit of self-doubt. There were moments when I felt like giving up, but I'm glad I didn't. Every challenge I encountered was a stepping stone towards building mental resilience. I am sure that you will follow this process and have the same experiences and put downs, but keep going, it will come around.
"Cultivating self-compassion through meditation isn't about reaching a destination; it's about embracing the journey. Each moment of mindfulness, each gentle return of focus, is a step towards inner peace and a deeper understanding of ourselves." Julian Jenkins
With time, my restless mind began to settle. I learned to observe my thoughts without getting swept away by them. I began to respond, rather than react, to the world around me. Slowly but surely, I found myself experiencing joy in everyday moments, a sense of inner peace that was new yet incredibly comforting.
You see, meditation is not just about staying focused. It's about acknowledging the wandering mind and gently guiding it back to the present moment. It's about transforming our relationship with our thoughts and fostering a nurturing, compassionate dialogue with ourselves.
As the French philosopher Voltaire once said, "We must cultivate our garden." Just as a garden requires regular care and attention, so does our mind. Meditation is the tool that helps us weed out the unnecessary, plant the seeds of self-compassion, and cultivate a garden of inner peace.
Research shows that meditation has a significant impact on the brain. It dampens the activity of the default mode network, a part of the brain often associated with repetitive thinking and rumination. A mere month of regular meditation can quieten this network, helping us break free from the chains of overthinking.
So how do we meditate, you ask? It's quite straightforward. Find a comfortable spot, focus on your breath, and when your mind inevitably wanders, gently bring it back to the breath. Don't judge yourself for getting distracted; remember, it's a part of the process.
For self-compassion, I recommend trying a simple yet powerful technique known as loving-kindness meditation. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and repeat phrases like, "May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease." Extend these wishes to others, too. This practice can cultivate a sense of compassion not only towards ourselves but also towards the world around us, we will be holding this meditation practice in a few moments.
I urge you to try it. Start with five minutes a day. Remember, it's not about reaching a destination; it's about embracing the journey. With patience and perseverance, I promise you'll begin to see the transformative power of self-compassion.
As I close today's post, I leave you with these inspiring words from Thich Nhat Hanh: "To meditate means to go home to yourself. Then you know how to take care of the things that are happening inside you, and you know how to take care of the things that happen around you."
Stay mindful, stay compassionate.
Now lets take some time and enter into the loving kindness meditation xx
Find a comfortable position: This could be seated cross-legged, on a chair, or lying down. The goal is to be comfortable and alert.
Close your eyes: This helps to limit distractions and turn your attention inward.
Take a few deep breaths: Deep, slow breaths can help you relax and focus. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Settle into your natural breath: Don't try to control your breath, just let it flow naturally.
Start by cultivating love for yourself: Repeat these phrases in your mind:
"May I be safe."
"May I be happy."
"May I be healthy."
"May I live with ease."
Extend loving-kindness towards a loved one or friend: Bring to mind someone you care about and repeat the phrases for them:
"May you be safe."
"May you be happy."
"May you be healthy."
"May you live with ease."
Extend loving-kindness towards a neutral person: Think of someone you neither like nor dislike and repeat the phrases for them.
Extend loving-kindness towards someone you have difficulty with: This can be challenging, but it's a powerful step in developing compassion.
Finally, extend loving-kindness to all beings everywhere: This can include people, animals, and all forms of life.
Remember, it's okay if you find it difficult at first or if your mind wanders. The key is to gently bring your focus back to the phrases without judging yourself. With time and practice, this meditation can help cultivate a deep sense of compassion and love for yourself and others.