SELF-COMPASSION FOR A MORE PEACEFUL LIFE
This time last year I visited a Buddhist Retreat Centre, Dzogchen Beara, in beautiful West Cork and I attended a Self-Compassion Retreat. I was guided and supported in holding my own heart. It was beautiful and moving and for me life changing. Here I would like to share with you a little of what I learned
What is Self-Compassion?
On this retreat we looked at self-compassion and explored what it meant, and what it looked like. I found it easier to say what self-compassion is not. When I thought of pushing myself, criticizing myself, judging myself….I knew this is NOT self-compassion.
So self-compassion must be the opposite I decided.. It must be supporting myself, encouraging myself and accepting myself. I have to say I liked the sound of that!
In Buddhism they refer to compassion as ‘the wish for others to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.’ So really with self-compassion we might ask 'What can I do to alleviate my own suffering? How can I support myself, encourage myself and accept myself more?' (You may wish to journal on that!)
Self-Compassion for Mums
Self-compassion is essentially about meeting ourselves in the places where we feel unmet. As mothers we often feel unseen, unsupported, undervalued. We feel burdened by the pressure to be all things to everyone....but who is cracking the whip?
If you're ready to put that whip down, and introduce more self compassion into your life, you'll see amazing things happen. With a self-compassion practice we start to actively look for ways to see, support and value ourselves.
How to practice Self-Compassion.
Kristen Neff is an American Psychologist who has studied self-compassion and it’s effect on our happiness & wellbeing. She speaks of 3 elements to self-compassion :
The first is an awareness of how we feel. Many of us are so busy on the threadmill of life that we don’t take the time to check in with ourselves and we don’t actually know how we are…really. You may like to do that right now, as you read this blog. Just pause, breathe, put your hand on your chest and ask yourself 'How am I? How am I really?'
You may find when you pause like that, that you're feeling tired, or achy, maybe thirsty or hungry even. You may notice you feel stressed or anxious or sad. In life we tend to keep ourselves busy to avoid feeling the 'difficult emotions' but seeing how you are, is step 1 creating a more peaceful life
- Common Humanity
The second element she refers to as ‘Common Humanity’. This is the idea that everyone is suffering in one way or another, it’s part of life. Therefore there’s actually nothing going wrong, if we are having a hard time
In fact our stress often comes from the thought “I shouldn’t be feeling this way…….’ Really what she’s saying is, we need to be ok with feeling our difficult emotions.
So as you notice how you feel right now, you could say to yourself 'I see you're feeling ______and that's ok'
The third element Neff refers to is kindness. Being as kind to ourselves as we would a friend who was struggling.
Can you remember a time when a friend (or your child) came to you in distress. How did you speak to them? What was your tone of voice like?
Now consider a time when you were in distress. How did you speak to yourself? What was your tone of voice. I'm willing to bet it was a little more harsh and intolerant than your response to your friend!
How do I know this? Well because we all have a critical voice that likes to tell us we're stupid, or lazy or just not enough. It's designed either to motivate us or to keep us safe
But we all respond better to kindness and encouragement, and the good news is that just as we all have a critical voice, we all have a compassionate voice too. She's just a little quieter. She is your number 1 cheerleader! She adores you and everything about you! She knows everything about you and she still loves you! Imagine that! If you could hear her voice now, what do you think she might say? (Something to journal on perhaps)
If you'd like to introduce more Self-Compassion into your life, I invite you to join me on Sunday 19th March @11.30am for a Soothing Session for Self-Compassion. This is an online group Energy Healing session.
This event is free. Click here to register and receive your zoom link
I hope to see you there x