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Self-Compassion Exercise

Self-Compassion Exercise

Anchoring in Compassion

Loving-kindness, or compassion, meditation is offering ourselves the kindness or compassion that we might offer to a loved one in a difficult situation. This experience can be powerful when we do it in therapy or in a group, but many of us struggle to offer ourselves the same compassion during our day-to-day experiences. Instead of thinking of it as a formal mindfulness practice, it can be practiced using a brief check-in, and an "anchor phrase", that can ground you from moment to moment.

The next time that you experience something difficult, and you find that your thoughts have jumped toward judgement (of your self or others), practice the following steps:

Soften:

Notice the discomfort that you're feeling.
Notice any thoughts or judgements you're telling yourself.
Is there a place in your body where you’re feeling this emotion particularly strongly?

Soothe:

Consider if there’s a way to gently make contact with that space. Perhaps placing a hand over your heart, on the back of your neck, over your forehead.

Offer yourself the kind reassurance you would offer to a loved one (an "anchor phrase"). Say something like “it’s okay” or “this too shall pass”; if it feels good, you may even offer an intention: “Yes, this hurts. May I stay open.” or “Yes, this hurts. May I be kind to myself”

Allow:

Slowly breathe in and out for a moment, allowing yourself permission to feel this emotion. Imagine that you are comforting a loved one, and continue to make contact with any painful physical or emotional sensation.

(adapted from Kristin Neff)

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