While I try to incorporate many forms of mindfulness into my sessions, I’ve found that recently I’ve been drawn to this one, specific guided meditation. In nearly every session that I’ve played this meditation, clients not only report feeling more calm and stillness, but also that they’re seeing it physically in their body. When something like this works for the majority of my clients, I find it important to check in and see if the tool itself is especially helpful or if the issue being addressed might be more common than I thought. So, I began asking my clients what it was about this one 5-minute meditation that was so beneficial, compared to the thousands of other meditations you can find on the internet. Nearly all of them answered that it came down to this phrase - “May I be kind to myself in this moment, and may I give myself the compassion that I need.”
Growing up, many of us are taught the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” In other words, treat people the way you’d like to be treated. Manners are enforced, and we’re constantly told to have compassion for our fellow humans. All of these things are clearly very positive, because teaching children to have compassion for others is a very important thing. However, I’ve noticed that there isn’t much being taught about self-compassion and the importance it plays in our overall happiness and well-being, especially during the teen years. Really the only time I’ve seen this out in the real world is when a flight attendant tells a caregiver to put their air mask on first before assisting others. Makes sense, right? You need to be able to breathe to help others, so of course you would need to put your mask on first. Similarly, it’s also true that for us to have compassion for others, we need to have it for ourselves. Except sometimes that’s much harder to do.
In my last blog post, I explored negative self-talk using a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) technique of connecting your thoughts, feelings and behaviors using a triangle visual. From this exercise it became clear to me that my procrastination and “stuckness” came down to saying things to myself that I wouldn’t dare say to another person because they wouldn’t be kind. Why is it that it feels okay to say hurtful things to ourselves when we would be appalled to see someone else being spoken to that way? Why is self-compassion so hard?
These are questions that I still don’t have the answer to, but I am exploring, specifically through a book called Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach and through this meditation that has been so helpful to my clients. For some reason, having someone give you permission to be kind to yourself makes it much easier. It’s amazing what just 5 minutes of treating yourself kindly can do for your entire day! So as school starts, schedules fill, and the stress levels inevitably rise, I invite you to take a few moments to be kind to yourself and give yourself the compassion that you need.
App: Insight Timer (FREE meditation app!) 5 Minutes of Self Compassion by Lisa Abramson