young-beautiful-woman-in-yoga-meditation-pose-clo-2021-10-23-17-35-16-utc (1)-min

What is self compassion?

Becoming compassionate to ourselves requires that we be able to identify when we are struggling and when our mind begins to think in a self-critical way. This is when we should act intentionally and redirect our attention to empathic thoughts full of compassion. We use mindfulness-based attention redirection exercises to achieve this awareness and flexibility of attention.

The exercises of focusing on a mundane task and meditation teach us to be aware of where our attention is at any given moment and how to gently redirect it to the current moment or ongoing task, and to recognize when our attention begins to “wander” and how to recapture it and bring it back to the here and now. These skills provide an important foundation necessary to build the capacity for self-compassion, but they also require daily practice. Without these practices, self-compassion strategies will not show their full potential.

Self-compassion is an attitude of care and kindness directed toward one’s own person. Self-compassion includes being aware of our own pain and suffering and understanding that this is a difficult experience, but normal for any human being. Directing feelings of kindness and caring toward ourselves and focusing our energy and attention on how we can relieve this suffering are also essential elements of self-compassion.

The opposite of self-compassion is self-criticism. This highly negative thinking style is often associated with difficult emotions. Those who are highly self-critical especially need to develop the ability to relate to themselves in an empathetic way. It is highly likely that we get stuck in a loop of self-criticism and then each problem we encounter activates a threat system and the subsequent responses. Then, by trying to deal with the problems through self-criticism, we keep the threat system in activation mode, which in turn causes us to continue to face the problem and emotional suffering.

Self-compassion can bring enormous benefits to our well-being and mental health. Self-compassion activates the self-soothing system, which in turn extinguishes the threat and drive systems. The threat and drive systems often remain over-stimulated for very long periods of time and may be responsible for the unpleasant emotions we experience (anxiety, anger, depression).

Breathwork to Calm your system

Calm breathing is the key to slowing down the body and mind and the impulse that activates the parasympathetic nervous system. It helps us press the pause button and then the reset button. This technique may seem trivial, but it really has great power to help us switch from survival mode to a more peaceful state. The normal breathing rhythm is 10-14 per minute. When we are afraid and feel threatened, our breathing can accelerate significantly. Our recommended breathing rate is about 5 breaths per minute so that we slow down our actions and thoughts and relax.

Slowing down includes both slowing down your breathing rate and changing the way you breathe. Apply the following steps so that you can activate your self-soothing system and prepare yourself for the strategies involving self-compassion.

  • Make sure you are sitting in a comfortable chair or lying on your bed
  • Take a deep breath lasting 4 seconds (preferably through your nose)
  • Hold the air for 2 seconds
  • Slowly let the air out – let the exhale last 6 seconds (preferably through the nose)
  • Take a short break before inhaling again
  • Repeat the cycle

During the exercise, make sure you are breathing abdominally, meaning the air is going all the way to your belly, not just your chest. You can check this by placing one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. The hand on your belly should rise when you inhale and fall when you exhale.

pranayama-alternate-nostril-breathing-exercise-in-2021-08-26-16-53-22-utc (1)-min

Take This Practice Everywhere With You

Try to perform this exercise at least 1-2 times a day. You can opt for one longer session (20 minutes) or several shorter ones (4 times for 5 minutes each). Initially, practice when you can relax a bit and free yourself from any distractions. Over time, you can practice whenever and wherever you have a moment (while waiting in a checkout line or in public transports).

The ultimate goal is that no matter what you are doing or where you are, whenever you notice that you are agitated, you will be able to use the breathing technique to calm yourself. If you have already achieved this ability, you will be at the best point to start using some techniques involving self-compassion during periods of crisis.

Redirecting Your Attention

Our emotional and physical state also depends on what and how our mind pays attention to. We are often not fully aware of what we are experiencing. We just go through life feeling different emotions and having different thoughts from day to day. People often compare this state to being on autopilot or functioning mindlessly.

In order to begin to apply self-compassion, we need to realize and recognize that we are struggling and that we are compounding our struggles through self-criticism. We also need to be able to mentally distance ourselves from what we are experiencing, and be able to observe what is going on in our thoughts and what our feelings are, rather than just wallowing in them without thinking. This distancing should allow us to reflect, but it should not mean running away from the problem – remember that a compassionate person would not run away from someone who is suffering.

Beyond that, we must learn to intentionally redirect our attention to more empathic concepts so that we can thereby stimulate the self-soothing system when needed. This briefly means that where we place our attention is the result of a more conscious choice. We basically need to train attention with a focus on three tasks: noticing, watching, and redirecting. We need to notice where our attention has drifted away, look at what has attracted it, and consciously and intentionally redirect our attention to what we think is appropriate at that moment. This cycle needs to be repeated.

How can we make our attention do these three things? Well, we need to exercise it regularly! Think of the mind like a muscle. If you don’t exercise it regularly, it will become weak and not function very well. There are two ways you can give your mindfulness regular practice – focusing on a mundane task and meditation. Both of these methods are attention redirection exercises based on mindfulness. Mindfulness is a term that refers to intentionally and consciously focusing on what is happening in the moment and maintaining an attitude of complete acceptance of those events. In this way, you become an observer of what you experience (breath, body sensations, thoughts, feelings, sounds, tastes, smells, sights, etc.) not judging whether these experiences are good or bad, not trying to stop or change them – just witnessing.

Mindfulness also includes practicing how to notice when your attention has been pulled away from the present moment and focused on something else, and then how to gently redirect it back to the here and now. Mindfulness is not an attempt to control thoughts and feelings or to drive them away. Instead, it is consenting to their presence while deciding to shift your attention back to the present moment.

Focusing on Mundane Task

pexels-prince-kumar-2421467 (1)

You may have noticed that when doing everyday household chores, such as doing the dishes or ironing, your mind does not focus on these activities, but rather operates as if in autopilot mode. The strategy of focusing on a mundane task is to try to gradually learn how to keep your attention on these simple activities, thereby giving your mind a very good workout.

The advantage of this strategy is that it doesn’t require you to do anything extra during the day. It’s just a matter of changing your approach to what you do anyway.

Mundane tasks can also include sitting, walking, eating, showering, brushing your teeth – not just household chores. As you perform these activities, try to be aware of the various aspects of them. Focus all your attention on all your senses and the stimuli that a task provides them with. Depending on the nature of the task, different senses may be more or less active. Whenever you find yourself drifting off with your thoughts, which is of course natural for everyone, fix your attention back on the task at hand by concentrating on one or more of the following elements :

  • Touch: What do I feel while performing the activity? What is the surface texture of the objects I am touching? Which part of my body am I touching something with?
  • Sight: What do I see while doing this activity? What catches my eye? What do objects, surroundings, etc. look like? What is the light, shadow, contours, colors?
  • Sound: What sounds do I pick up? What kinds of noises do I make?
  • Smell: What kind of smell do I pick up? Does the smell change? Is there one smell or more?
  • Taste: What taste do I perceive? Does the taste change? What is its quality?

Stages of Compassion Meditation

To begin the practice, sit in a comfortable position. Then ask yourself – what am I experiencing right now? What thoughts come into my mind? What do I feel? What is happening in my body? Allow yourself to simply notice, observe, and describe these experiences without judgment or interference. Now concentrate on your breath. The sensations you feel when you breathe in and out. Focus on the movements of your abdomen and what you feel as it moves back and forth. With each exhalation, allow your thoughts to drift away. You can tell yourself to relax or let go. If your mind drifts off to a thought, feeling, or sensation, don’t force it back. Simply acknowledge and accept their presence, then let them go and refocus your attention on your breath.

Now expand your awareness to the sensations coming from your whole body as you breathe calmly. If there are any strong feelings that come up, you can say to yourself: “Whatever it is, it’s okay, just let me feel it.”. Breathe along with those feelings, and as your mind continues to wander around nagging thoughts or sensations, accept their presence and let them go. Then return to what you feel throughout your body as you breathe in and out with each inhale and exhale.

As you feel more confident and at ease meditating, you can gradually increase the duration of your practice. Over time, meditation and focusing your attention on mundane tasks will raise your awareness of what your attention is currently focused on so that you can recognize when it is blocking pain, suffering, and self-criticism. This practice of self compassion meditation will help you flexibly redirect your attention to what you want, as notice and respond when your attention drifts away from being compassionate.

Practice Self Compassion with Yogilab

Redirecting your attention through focusing on a mundane task and meditating as well as calm breathing are not immediate solutions, nor are they simple. They require regular practice. They are skills that, like any other skill, take time to perfect. Also, remember that your attention is like a muscle. If you stop practicing regularly, the muscle will not work as well.

Yogilab will guide you on the path to mindful self compassion. Join our online meditation retreats running every month for free. Surround yourself with a driven, conscious community that places self compassion as a number one priority. Let’s get better at life together.

What is self compassion?

Becoming compassionate to ourselves requires that we be able to identify when we are struggling and when our mind begins to think in a self-critical way. This is when we should act intentionally and redirect our attention to empathic thoughts full of compassion. We use mindfulness-based attention redirection exercises to achieve this awareness and flexibility of attention. The exercises of focusing on a mundane task and meditation teach us to be aware of where our attention is at any given moment and how to gently redirect it to the current moment or ongoing task, and to recognize when our attention begins to “wander” and how to recapture it and bring it back to the here and now. These skills provide an important foundation necessary to build the capacity for self-compassion, but they also require daily practice. Without these practices, self-compassion strategies will not show their full potential.

What is self compassion?

Self-compassion is an attitude of care and kindness directed toward one’s own person. Self-compassion includes being aware of our own pain and suffering and understanding that this is a difficult experience, but normal for any human being. Directing feelings of kindness and caring toward ourselves and focusing our energy and attention on how we can relieve this suffering are also essential elements of self-compassion. The opposite of self-compassion is self-criticism. This highly negative thinking style is often associated with difficult emotions. Those who are highly self-critical especially need to develop the ability to relate to themselves in an empathetic way. It is highly likely that we get stuck in a loop of self-criticism and then each problem we encounter activates a threat system and the subsequent responses. Then, by trying to deal with the problems through self-criticism, we keep the threat system in activation mode, which in turn causes us to continue to face the problem and emotional suffering.

Self-compassion can bring enormous benefits to our well-being and mental health. Self-compassion activates the self-soothing system, which in turn extinguishes the threat and drive systems. The threat and drive systems often remain over-stimulated for very long periods of time and may be responsible for the unpleasant emotions we experience (anxiety, anger, depression).

Breathwork for calming your system

Calm breathing is the key to slowing down the body and mind and the impulse that activates the parasympathetic nervous system. It helps us press the pause button and then the reset button. This technique may seem trivial, but it really has great power to help us switch from survival mode to a more peaceful state. The normal breathing rhythm is 10-14 per minute. When we are afraid and feel threatened, our breathing can accelerate significantly. Our recommended breathing rate is about 5 breaths per minute so that we slow down our actions and thoughts and relax. Slowing down includes both slowing down your breathing rate and changing the way you breathe. Apply the following steps so that you can activate your self-soothing system and prepare yourself for the strategies involving self-compassion.

  • Make sure you are sitting in a comfortable chair or lying on your bed
  • Take a deep breath lasting 4 seconds (preferably through your nose)
  • Hold the air for 2 seconds
  • Slowly let the air out – let the exhale last 6 seconds (preferably through the nose)
  • Take a short break before inhaling again
  • Repeat the cycle

During the exercise, make sure you are breathing abdominally, meaning the air is going all the way to your belly, not just your chest. You can check this by placing one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. The hand on your belly should rise when you inhale and fall when you exhale.

Take this practice everywhere with you

Try to perform this exercise at least 1-2 times a day. You can opt for one longer session (20 minutes) or several shorter ones (4 times for 5 minutes each). Initially, practice when you can relax a bit and free yourself from any distractions. Over time, you can practice whenever and wherever you have a moment (while waiting in a checkout line or in public transports). The ultimate goal is that no matter what you are doing or where you are, whenever you notice that you are agitated, you will be able to use the breathing technique to calm yourself. If you have already achieved this ability, you will be at the best point to start using some techniques involving self-compassion during periods of crisis.

pexels-prince-kumar-2421467 (1)

Redirecting Your Attention

Our emotional and physical state also depends on what and how our mind pays attention to. We are often not fully aware of what we are experiencing. We just go through life feeling different emotions and having different thoughts from day to day. People often compare this state to being on autopilot or functioning mindlessly.

In order to begin to apply self-compassion, we need to realize and recognize that we are struggling and that we are compounding our struggles through self-criticism. We also need to be able to mentally distance ourselves from what we are experiencing, and be able to observe what is going on in our thoughts and what our feelings are, rather than just wallowing in them without thinking. This distancing should allow us to reflect, but it should not mean running away from the problem – remember that a compassionate person would not run away from someone who is suffering.

Beyond that, we must learn to intentionally redirect our attention to more empathic concepts so that we can thereby stimulate the self-soothing system when needed. This briefly means that where we place our attention is the result of a more conscious choice. We basically need to train attention with a focus on three tasks: noticing, watching, and redirecting. We need to notice where our attention has drifted away, look at what has attracted it, and consciously and intentionally redirect our attention to what we think is appropriate at that moment. This cycle needs to be repeated.

How can we make our attention do these three things? Well, we need to exercise it regularly! Think of the mind like a muscle. If you don’t exercise it regularly, it will become weak and not function very well. There are two ways you can give your mindfulness regular practice – focusing on a mundane task and meditation. Both of these methods are attention redirection exercises based on mindfulness. Mindfulness is a term that refers to intentionally and consciously focusing on what is happening in the moment and maintaining an attitude of complete acceptance of those events. In this way, you become an observer of what you experience (breath, body sensations, thoughts, feelings, sounds, tastes, smells, sights, etc.) not judging whether these experiences are good or bad, not trying to stop or change them – just witnessing.

Mindfulness also includes practicing how to notice when your attention has been pulled away from the present moment and focused on something else, and then how to gently redirect it back to the here and now. Mindfulness is not an attempt to control thoughts and feelings or to drive them away. Instead, it is consenting to their presence while deciding to shift your attention back to the present moment.

Focusing On A Mundane Task

You may have noticed that when doing everyday household chores, such as doing the dishes or ironing, your mind does not focus on these activities, but rather operates as if in autopilot mode. The strategy of focusing on a mundane task is to try to gradually learn how to keep your attention on these simple activities, thereby giving your mind a very good workout.

The advantage of this strategy is that it doesn’t require you to do anything extra during the day. It’s just a matter of changing your approach to what you do anyway.

Mundane tasks can also include sitting, walking, eating, showering, brushing your teeth – not just household chores. As you perform these activities, try to be aware of the various aspects of them. Focus all your attention on all your senses and the stimuli that a task provides them with. Depending on the nature of the task, different senses may be more or less active. Whenever you find yourself drifting off with your thoughts, which is of course natural for everyone, fix your attention back on the task at hand by concentrating on one or more of the following elements:

  • Touch: What do I feel while performing the activity? What is the surface texture of the objects I am touching? Which part of my body am I touching something with?
  • Sight: What do I see while doing this activity? What catches my eye? What do objects, surroundings, etc. look like? What is the light, shadow, contours, colors?
  • Sound: What sounds do I pick up? What kinds of noises do I make?
  • Smell: What kind of smell do I pick up? Does the smell change? Is there one smell or more?
  • Taste: What taste do I perceive? Does the taste change? What is its quality?

Meditation For Self-Compassion

Practicing meditation is the best possible strategy for training yourself to be more aware of what your attention is focused on, redirecting it to what you want to focus on at the moment, and dealing with its inevitable distractions. A common meditation technique called Anapada is to focus on your breath, noticing each moment when your attention wanders away from it and bringing it back toward it. The breath is an anchor in the here and now. Your breath is something that is always with you and that you are often not aware of, so it is a great place to practice redirecting your attention.

Stages Of Compassion Meditation

To begin the practice, sit in a comfortable position. Then ask yourself – what am I experiencing right now? What thoughts come into my mind? What do I feel? What is happening in my body? Allow yourself to simply notice, observe, and describe these experiences without judgment or interference. Now concentrate on your breath. The sensations you feel when you breathe in and out. Focus on the movements of your abdomen and what you feel as it moves back and forth. With each exhalation, allow your thoughts to drift away. You can tell yourself to relax or let go. If your mind drifts off to a thought, feeling, or sensation, don’t force it back. Simply acknowledge and accept their presence, then let them go and refocus your attention on your breath.

Now expand your awareness to the sensations coming from your whole body as you breathe calmly. If there are any strong feelings that come up, you can say to yourself: “Whatever it is, it’s okay, just let me feel it.”. Breathe along with those feelings, and as your mind continues to wander around nagging thoughts or sensations, accept their presence and let them go. Then return to what you feel throughout your body as you breathe in and out with each inhale and exhale.

As you feel more confident and at ease meditating, you can gradually increase the duration of your practice. Over time, meditation and focusing your attention on mundane tasks will raise your awareness of what your attention is currently focused on so that you can recognize when it is blocking pain, suffering, and self-criticism. This practice of self compassion meditation will help you flexibly redirect your attention to what you want, as notice and respond when your attention drifts away from being compassionate.

Practice Self Compassion with Yogilab

Redirecting your attention through focusing on a mundane task and meditating as well as calm breathing are not immediate solutions, nor are they simple. They require regular practice. They are skills that, like any other skill, take time to perfect. Also, remember that your attention is like a muscle. If you stop practicing regularly, the muscle will not work as well. Yogilab will guide you on the path to mindful self compassion. Join our online meditation retreats running every month for free. Surround yourself with a driven, conscious community that places self compassion as a number one priority. Let’s get better at life together.

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