How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
What is Meditation?
How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
10 Science-Backed Benefits of Meditation
What is Meditation?
Benefits of Mindfulness: Mindful Living Can Change Your Life
Mindfulness 101: A Beginner's Guide
Learn three simple ways to cultivate self-compassion to unhook from unhelpful thoughts that can distress and disempower us.
We'll have a voice in our head, a
voice that talks to us all day long
in the form of constant thoughts.
This voice raises doubts,
fears, and questions about the
way we're living our lives.
Sometimes the voice is really insightful.
It alerts us to something
helpful that we can do to achieve
our goals or solve problems.
But more often than not, this inner
voice is more like an inner critic.
It says things that are harsh,
mean, unkind, making us feel
unworthy, afraid, or unhappy.
And this voice can create immense
amounts of suffering when it calls us
names like idiot, loser or useless.
One of the things that's problematic
is that sometimes when life is at
its hardest, or we're overwhelmed
or stressed, our inner critic goes
into overdrive, bringing even more
suffering to an already difficult time.
I'd like to share a, a personal
experience with you to give
you an idea of what I mean.
But first I want to talk briefly about
the three emotional regulation systems
that we have, as this is really going
to help you to see how the inner critic
can get us into trouble when it gets
us caught up in stress and suffering.
So thanks to evolution, every
single one of us has three emotional
regulation systems that continue
to have a significant influence
over our thoughts and behaviors.
The first system is
called the threat system.
The threat system is designed
to protect you from harm.
It's our fight, flight or flee response.
And it's designed to keep
you out of harm's way.
Keep you away from threatened danger.
This system is often
attributed the color red.
We also have the drive system.
The drive system is a system that gets you
moving towards seeking food, sex, shelter.
It motivates you to pursue goals.
And this system is often given the
color blue or called the blue zone.
Then we have the soothing system.
The system of contentment,
rest and connection.
When this system is activated, you can
connect with the people around you.
You can play.
You can rest.
You can be at ease.
It helps you feel safe,
loved, and protected.
The soothing system is the green zone.
So keeping in mind, these three
emotional regulation systems,
here's a story I'd like to share.
Recently, I was asked to
do a really demanding job.
I had to do a lot of writing, a
lot of content creation, and I
was asked to do it really quickly.
Now I got halfway through this task,
but then I found the voice in my head
starting to get really critical, saying
really unhelpful and unkind things.
Like, you know, maybe you can't do this.
You're not a real writer.
You don't know what you're doing.
Who do you think you are trying this?
It really started to play on my
insecurities by saying things
like you're about to really put
yourself out there in a big way.
You could embarrass yourself.
People might hate your work.
And all of these thoughts
brought in self doubt.
I began to experience what
they call imposter syndrome.
I started to worry about my ability
to actually deliver on this really
important project, something
I was really passionate about.
I noticed that as these critical
thoughts became louder and louder,
as the anxiety rose up inside me,
my stress response kicked in and I
got tricked into that threat system.
I went into the red zone.
I felt anxious, overwhelmed, and these
feelings started to stifle my creativity.
And so I really started to find
it harder and harder to focus.
It's hard to focus properly
when you're in the red zone.
It wasn't designed for that.
The red zone is not designed
for that kind of focus.
Now, lucky me, I started to
notice what was happening.
I started to notice the impact that this
critical inner voice was having on me
and how it was making me feel powerless,
frustrated, upset, and overwhelmed as
I stared helplessly at my computer.
And, you know, I had to stop and walk
away from my desk one day, because I found
myself plagued by these inner thoughts.
So what I did was this, when I noticed
the impact of those critical thoughts, I
paused, I placed a hand over my heart and
I did a short practice of self-compassion.
I gently spoke words to myself in
a kind and soothing mental voice,
acknowledging what was happening for me.
So the first thing I said to myself
mentally was, this is a moment of stress.
We all get stressed sometimes.
May I be kind to myself in this moment.
And I repeated these phrases.
May I be kind to myself.
May I be gentle to myself.
I kept repeating these kind phrases
for about one to two minutes, as I, you
know, gently kept my hand on my heart.
And after a couple of minutes,
I felt my whole nervous system
start to feel soothed and relaxed.
I reminded myself that it's quite
normal to feel a little bit anxious
about putting yourself out there.
The self-compassion practice had untangled
me from the thoughts in my head that
were critical, harsh, and mean, and
brought me back to my center, back
to presence, back to calm and clarity
and the connection of the green zone.
When we talk to ourselves mentally
in a harsh, mean and critical way,
it is actually perceived as a threat
and it pushes us into the red zone.
Think about it.
If somebody was walking behind you saying
really nasty things and calling you names
and putting you down, it's not nice.
It feels threatening.
It creates tension and stress.
Unfortunately, for so many of us,
when things are already hard, that
inner critic revs up and tries to
whip us into shape or push us around.
And that's what happened to me.
Self-compassion, however, engages our
soothing system, which is why I did
that short practice to bring me back
into my green zone and out of distress.
Do you remember when you were young?
And if you hurt yourself or you were
really frightened in the red zone, how
instinctive it was for your parents or
carers to wrap their arms around you,
giving you soft cuddles or a soothing
touch, maybe, maybe like a pat on the back
and started to say gentle, compassionate
words like, it's okay, sweetheart.
Everything's going to be okay.
And do you remember how soothing
and centering it was for you?
How your whole nervous system
settled back into the green zone?
Well, we can give the same
thing to ourselves when
we're in any distress at all.
You can use that kind inner voice
to soften the inner critic so
that it loses power over you.
You can use self-compassion
in any difficult time at all.
Once I gave myself self-compassion
and I was in the green zone instead.
Again, in that calm, clear space.
And I regained my focus,
my passion and my presence.
In the end, I got everything
that I needed to get done done,
and I enjoyed the process.
Many people believe that if they don't
crack the whip on themselves with harsh
self-talk, they won't be motivated
to make changes and achieve goals.
But the research shows just the opposite.
Self-limiting or self-destructive
thought processes like that really
critical inner voice, they really
diminish our motivation and initiative,
whereas self-compassion and kindness
have been shown to increase them.
When we learn to be kinder to ourselves,
we also become more resilient to
the challenges of life and stress.
We become more productive and we're more
able to overcome bad habits and addictions
and have more fulfilling relationships.
In the end, so what self-compassion
really gives us is just a more
joyful, more easeful way to live.
So here are three, really simple ways that
you can start to develop self-compassion
and be kind to yourself from today on.
The first thing is to
soften that inner voice.
A way that we speak to ourselves in our
own heads can often have a very harsh and
cold tone to it, especially if something's
gone wrong or we made a mistake.
See if you can start practicing self-talk
that sounds warm, friendly and kind.
Let your inner voice take on the
tone of a supportive friend or coach.
And if you catch yourself sounding harsh,
see if you can just take a pause and
change that tone of the inner voice back
to a warm and kind and supportive voice.
So, you can say kind and encouraging
things to yourself, like, you know, good
on you for giving that a go honey, or,
that was a very kind honest, good thing
you did there, or, Hey, it's all okay.
Just soothing things.
And if, if you don't find terms
of endearment like honey useful,
then of course just drop them.
Just to find your own way with
this practice, especially when
you're having a hard time.
Try to use kindness in your
inner tone, as if the same kind
of time that you would use.
If you were speaking to a
loved one who was hurting.
Yeah, saying really soothing
and kind things to yourself.
The second thing that you can do
to cultivate self-compassion is
to do things that nourish you.
Like what are the things
that nourish you in life?
You know, what are the things
that recharge your batteries,
relax or rejuvenate you?
The things that light you up,
bring you joy, feed the soul?
You know, some examples of nourishing
things are things like yoga, going
for a walk, having a rest, a cup of
tea, and gardening, or your hobbies
spending a little bit of time with
a pet or a loved one, taking a nap.
You know, so often, we get caught up
in the headlong rush of daily life.
And we don't allow ourselves
the time to just enjoy ourselves
and restore our energy.
So what can you do today?
You know, this week, this
month to nourish yourself?
It could be the simplest thing, like
just taking a 15 minute break at work,
going for a walk in the afternoon, or
participating in a hobby that you love.
The invitation here is instead of always
pushing yourself, can you also make time
to care for yourself and enjoy yourself.
And yes, you deserve it.
The third thing is to be self
compassionate, especially in
moments of pain and distress.
When the demands of our lives stretch
us to our limits, when we feel grief,
heartbreak, or we're overcome with
anxiety, depression, or hopelessness,
often, what we do is we struggle and
fight against ourselves and our feeling.
And it's like drowning in quicksand.
We only, when we struggle,
we only add more suffering
to an already difficult time.
And this is when we need kindness
towards ourselves the most.
Here's the kinder way through.
It's called a self-compassion break.
This is what I did for myself
on the day that I spoke of.
And it can be done in three or
four simple steps that take under a
minute, once you're familiar with it.
When you have a situation in your life
that's really challenging, painful,
or causing you distress, just take a
pause for a moment, tune into your body.
And the first thing you want to do
is see if you can locate and feel
into wherever you feel the physical
sensations of the emotion in your body.
And here's the practice and
you can try this right now.
Step one is to bring mindful
acceptance to what's happening.
So by doing this, we can begin
to let go of hardening against or
struggling with what's happening.
So step one is to say to yourself,
mentally or out loud, if you want
to, this is a moment of suffering.
Or if it's stress, you're feeling,
this is a moment of stress.
Or if it's sadness, you're feeling,
you'd say this is a moment of sadness.
So you're acknowledging what's
happening for you in a kind
and really loving mental tone.
The second step is about realizing
our common humanity and really
normalizing the experience of
having a difficult time or difficult
feelings, because we all do sometimes.
It's part of being human.
So there's no need for us to feel so
alone in our experience of distress.
So the second part of this practice
is to say to yourself, again,
mentally or out loud, if you want
to, this suffering is a part of life.
I'm not alone in this.
The third step is offering
yourself compassion and soothing.
This is a difficult moment,
so we want to give kindness to
ourselves in the midst of our pain.
So for this step, you want to
place a hand over your heart as
a gesture of self-compassion,
if that feels okay for you.
And then you say to yourself mentally
the third phrase, which is, may I
be kind to myself in this moment.
The fourth step is an optional extra step.
So here you can ask yourself,
what do I need right now to
express kindness to myself.
So it could be, the answer might
be something as simple as, I can
just, I need to slow down and
breathe a little bit right now.
Or, you know, what I really need is to
take a warm bath, to call a friend, to
go for a walk in nature, to meditate.
Who knows what your answer will be
in that time, but the step, this
step is more than anything about
inviting yourself to see if there's
any nourishing actions that you could
take to bring yourself that kindness.
Self-compassion really is a
superpower because it helps us to
unhook from the unhelpful thoughts.
It can make us distressed
or disempower us.
Self-compassion can bring us back to
the calm and clarity of mindfulness
and transform pain into peace.
Over time, the benefits of
self-compassion increase and it can
bring deep healing to old wounds and
transform your inner world into a
warm, soothing, and compassionate home.
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