Compassion comes easy to many. When we recognize another’s suffering, we are moved to extend ourselves, offering them kindness, care and consideration.
Yet, self-compassion is different, something that many struggle to gift themselves. After all, many of us were not taught nor supported to direct kind attention towards ourselves. Rather, we hold ourselves to high standards, endeavoring toward the illusionary aim of perfection; in turn, instead of being kind, we are self-critical, not allowing ourselves to accept and embrace all of who we are. In fact, many of us have developed conditioned habits to be harsh with ourselves and can even be weary of shifting towards a gentler way of being.
It takes boldness, even audacity, to step out of our habitual patterns and experiment with a quality like kindness – to work with it and see just how it might shift and open up our lives.
– Sharon Salzberg
Thankfully, turning towards a kinder inner dialogue is something that we can learn and that we can readily practice in any situation. It is so valuable—as when we meet ourselves with this type of care, we can support our physical, emotional, social and spiritual well-being—that it is at the foundation of all of my offerings.
Self-compassion effectively interrupts stress response cycles, restoring healthful balance to our autonomic nervous system. It’s been shown to reduce depression, anxiety and burnout while fostering feel-good states and emotional resiliency. Regular self-kindness practice can also decrease inflammation in the body and strengthen immune functioning. The quality of our relationships tends to improve with self-compassion, while we also become more creative, accountable and generous. On a spiritual level, self-compassion helps us to connect with what really matters to us so that we may, in turn, better live our values.
There are many OpenSpace Mindfulness offerings through which you can learn about and tap into self-compassion. These include weekly Yoga Nidra (guided relaxation), compassion-based meditations, workshops on healing compassion fatigue (burnout) and journal resources. Since self-compassion has the ability to support so many aspects of life and work, I also often weave techniques to access it into my coaching sessions.