A central aspect of mindfulness practice is learning to let go of expectations of how things should be or musings on how they should have been and rest in the experience of what is in the present moment. Practicing in this way without judging ourselves nurtures a kinder attitude that is less reactive and more resilient. It promotes not only mindfulness, but also relaxation and an abiding sense of inner peace.
But sometimes a relaxed, peaceful attitude feels far from possible. When life is throwing us curve balls, what arises in the present can be so uncomfortable in the mind, heart, and body that it transcends mere “dissatisfaction” into what might be described as “suffering.” This kind of intense discomfort often fuels reactive sensations, thoughts, and emotions and activates exactly the projections and ruminations that can pull us out of the here and now. A powerful ally in these moments is self-compassion – a kindness that stays kind in the face of great pain.
As we practice self-compassion, we build internal resources that support other caring qualities of the heart. We can soften fear, self-criticism, self-judgment, and shame and make room for sympathetic attitudes like self-appreciation, gratitude, and generosity that spring from kindness and compassion. We can nurture experiences of joy and equanimity within ourselves and in relationship with others. And we can embrace our dignity – that we are as deserving of kindness and compassion as other human beings.
Inspired by classes I’ve taken and teachings I’ve integrated into my own mindfulness practice, I pursued specialized training that qualified me to teach Mindful Self-Compassion, which I have now been doing in a variety of settings for years.
If you are interested in discovering genuine kindness toward yourself – a feeling that not only remains steady and kind in the face of suffering but also supports the beneficial resources you already have within, please join me and my co-teacher Suzanne Smith in our upcoming Short Course in Mindful Self-Compassion, a six-week online course every Wednesday, starting February 8, 2023.