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Author: Forgiveness Support (Page 1 of 14)

How to Awaken Self-Compassion

While it may sound easy, practicing compassion for ourselves is quite the difficult task. Creating a practice to integrate self-compassionate feelings into your life will heal your mind and body, and open your heart to new heights.

Try this 10-step practice.

Self-compassion involves becoming aware of the presence of suffering in our bodies, emotions, thoughts, and actions – and then taking steps to diminish the suffering. Compassion is the natural and spontaneous feeling that arises when we witness suffering, and that triggers our taking action to alleviate the suffering. While it may sound easy, practicing compassion for ourselves is the more difficult of the two. Creating a practice to integrate self-compassionate feelings into your life can heal your mind and body, and open your heart to new heights.

Benefits of Self-Compassion

Research indicates that cultivating self-compassion can contribute to beneficial physical, emotional-mental, and interpersonal changes, such as:

  • Modulates hormonal functioning, especially of oxytocin and cortisol
  • Reduces the intensity and frequency of negative and chronic stress reactions
  • Copes with difficult emotional experiences
  • Moderates depression and anxiety
  • Increases emotional well being
  • Mitigates negative thinking, including rumination
  • Improves interpersonal relationships
  • Enhances patience, generosity, gratitude, acceptance, humility, openness, and gentleness

10 Steps to Self-Compassion

Set aside 15 minutes the first time you do this practice. Read through the sequence to get a feel for the flow of the practice before you begin. You will develop your own pace and rhythm as your practice grows, extending or decreasing the amount of time you need to get the most out of it.

Lie down or take a comfortable seat that feels both relaxed and alert.

Practice mindful breath: Become aware of your breath; breathe naturally while noticing in-breathing and out-breathing. Anchor your attention to a specific body-part, for examples you can focus at the tip of the nostrils or lips, sensing air entering and exiting the body, or you can focus on your belly as it rises while breathing in, and falls while breathing out.

Place one or both hands over the region of the heart, and bring a mental picture or memory of a loved one into awareness, someone with whom you have experienced a feeling of unconditional acceptance. This may be a human being or an animal, any being whose presence elicits natural happiness.

Recognize that your loved one, like all beings, experiences the vulnerabilities and the aspirations that life brings. He or she is subject to the sufferings of pain, accidents, disease, undo fear, or sadness, and eventual dying and death.

Bring the presence of this person into your heart-space while silently repeating the following:

  • May you be safe
  • May you be well
  • May you be happy
  • May you live with ease

As you notice that your attention has wandered elsewhere, gently encourage your attention back to the presence of the loved one at your heart center, and resume the practice of repeating each of the four phrases.

Add yourself to the goodwill you are generating from the space of your heart, repeating the following phrases:

  • May you and I be safe
  • May you and I be well
  • May you and I be happy
  • May you and I live with ease

Repeat these or other phrases that feel natural to you, while cultivating an attitude of openness, acceptance, and loving-kindness.

Picture the entirety of your mind-body. Gently and slowly begin to scan your body by moving your attention:

  • From the crown of the head down the neck, shoulders, both arms, hands and fingers
  • Along the front and back of the upper torso, and then the pelvic region
  • Up the body from the toes all the way to the crown of the head
  • Toward any areas of pleasantness and unpleasantness

Offer compassionate loving kindness to yourself by repeating the following phrases:

  • May I be safe
  • May I be well
  • May I be happy
  • May I live with ease

If it feels safe, then revisit areas of unpleasantness while holding a part of the mind-body in the heart space.

Consider naming the mind-body part within the phrases, for example:

  • “May the knee that I am trying to take care of be well …”
  • “May the fear that I have tried to push away be at ease …”
  • “May I be at ease with the negative thoughts that I have fought for so many years …”

Conclude your practice by bringing awareness back to the entire mind-body, and sensing the entirety of your being as a singular organism intimately connected with all other life forms. As you breathe, feel your connection with all of life. Lie or sit for some time in silence.

Shorter Options for a Self-Compassion Practice

At any time in your day, you can practice self-compassion, even if you only have 15 or 30 seconds. Whether you’re at work and feeling stressed, at home with your family, or anywhere you feel you need a little extra self-love, take a moment to activate self-compassion by bringing loving kindness to your awareness.

7-Day Self-Compassion Challenge

Form an intention to practice for seven consecutive days to see how the powerful the benefits can be. If possible, practice at the same time each day. After one week of practice, ask yourself:

  • What was your experience?
  • Has practicing self-compassion catalyzed more personal awareness? If yes, of what?
  • Has practicing triggered answers on what to do to alleviate your suffering?
  • Have you taken actions you had not taken before doing this practice?
  • Evaluate whether you want to commit to practicing for another week, and then another…

Formally practicing each day generates, solidifies, and strengthens deeply positive experiences in your life that literally etch into the brain. Being compassionate with yourself generates acceptance of your humanness and the humanness of others, an essential quality for a fuller awakening. Your focus shifts from the time-bound personal narrative of the small ego-self to present-moment compassionate awareness. When you awaken self-compassion, you can strengthen your familiarity with your essential nature and reconnect with the vast fullness of the All/the One/the Ground of Being.

After a steady practice, you will find yourself more often spontaneously feeling self-compassion, even when you’re not practicing.

Exercises to Cultivate Gratitude

When we were young the adults in our lives taught us that we had to use good manners. They said that we should always ask politely and show gratitude when someone does something for us.

How many times have we been told “and what do you say?” And we respond automatically “Thank you!” We need to cultivate gratitude more.

Just like our parents before us, we do the same with our children. We think it’s essential that they show gratitude. But are we grateful on a day to day basis? The reality is we have a lot to be grateful for. Learn to cultivate gratitude and you will feel better!

“Gratitude isn’t just the greatest of virtues. It is related to all of them.”

-Marco Tulio Ciceron-

Cultivate gratitude to improve well-being

Gratitude is a feeling that you have when life (and those who are part of your life) smiles on you. When the little things are going well. Sometimes you might think that gratitude is not that important. But knowing how to use it and maximize it will bring you more positive emotions. That, in turn, will increase your sense of well-being.

When you use gratitude with good measure and it is balanced, you can make the most of it. How? In the first place, I recommend that you make time during the day to think about the person you want to show gratitude for. It could be your partner, your friend, a family member, or someone you spend time with. Then, think about something they did or said that you liked.

“Forget what you have given so you can remember what you have received.”

-Mariano Aguilo-

Once you have in mind what it is you want to express gratitude for, write it in a personalized and concrete message. This will serve as proof of your gratitude and reflect how much you value that person. Write the date as well, and hide it in their things so they find it unexpectedly.

When they open their wallet or grab their socks, they will discover a lovely surprise. It will make them feel the same thing you felt when you wrote it – gratitude! If you do this once a week, imagine the effect it could have. Also, you don’t necessarily have to do it with a paper and pen. If we take into account all the new technology and ways to leave a message, the potential to cultivate gratitude multiplies.

Balanced gratitude – not too much or too little

Now you know how to cultivate gratitude and make the most of it. But, is it possible to use gratitude too little or too much? How can you balance it? If you are underutilizing it, the first step is to feel grateful to yourself. Gratitude, after all, begins with you.

“A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.”

-Henry Ward Beecher-

To do this, you should start each day by pampering yourself. Get up 10 minutes earlier than usual and listen to your body. It is always communicating its needs to you, but you have to pay attention to understand them. So, check your facial expression, your skin, and your body in general.

Once you’ve observed what you need, enjoy a few moments of self-care in the shower. Give yourself a massage with a washcloth, and be aware of the pleasant sensations you feel. If your skin is dry, give yourself a massage with moisturizing lotion. That way you can cultivate good feelings on each centimeter of your skin.

Just say “no” to overused gratitude

Why is excessive gratitude bad? It’s very simple – it might give people the impression that you aren’t being sincere. This can negatively affect your relationships. That’s why it’s so important to know how to use it with the right person at the right time. Expressing gratitude requires intelligence.

To achieve this, you can keep track of gratitude throughout the week. Write down when you say thank you, and how other people react to your gratitude. Once the week is over, you can see if someone communicated to you that it wasn’t necessary to say thank you so much.

Or it’s possible that other people won’t react at all because we are expressing our gratitude too frequently. The alternative is to look for different ways to be grateful.

That way you can make sure that gratitude has a positive impact on you, the other person, and your relationship… Practice these simple exercises to balance and cultivate gratitude!

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I offer you two day forgiveness course in Cape Town, Johannesburg, New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ontario, ‎Dublin and Auckland.