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  • Lauren Bentley

Why We Need Self- Compassion In Our Mindfulness Practice

As a mindfulness teacher I often get clients asking me how to become present and silence their mind. There is a ton of talk around mindfulness these days, which I think is phenomenal, but what not everyone is aware of is the extremely important steps that we need to take in order to have a successful mindful practice.


Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting ones feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. So, imagine yourself in a stressful or hurried situation. Do you think you could practice mindfulness in this state? Watching your thoughts, acknowledging your feelings, all without over-identification or suppression? No judgement here, but probably not. I am still working on this and mindfulness is the core focus of my day to day.


The reason I asked you this is because the majority of us exist in a high stress, hurried and anxious state even in a calm setting. Our nervous systems are over worked and many of us are trapped in a state of fight/flight/freeze. Our minds never seem to quiet and our bodies are tense making us more reactive to thoughts, feelings and other sorts of stimuli.


In this state, if we were to sit down to practice mindfulness, we would normally become over-identified with the thought which then leads to shame, guilt and criticism. Our breath is shallow, our body is tense and we may feel as if an hour has gone by, but when we open our eyes to check the time we notice that only another minute has passed from the last time you checked. This is when we often give up.


A critical step that would help greatly in this is learning to heal your nervous system. If you missed hit, please check out this post where I speak about various ways you can do that. https://www.gvhealthandwellness.net/post/healing-the-nervous-system

The other crucial step that I want to bring the focus to in this blog is self- compassion. Compassion is an embodied experience of love. Instead of ignoring your difficult moments, you acknowledge and seek ways to comfort self. You are kind and understanding towards yourself and are aware of your humaness.


The moment we are aware that we are suffering is the moment compassion can come into play- as long as we allow it. We allow ourselves to suffer all day by the thoughts we think. These thoughts are often memories and unhealed traumas from the past. They are hardly ever true, but we connect with them and allow ourselves to become them. But what if I told you, you do not have to be your thoughts? You could be the watcher of them. The awareness behind the thoughts and emotions.


For example, think a negative thought, perhaps one you think often and instead of allowing yourself to become it, let yourself see it. Say to yourself, I am having a negative thought right now. Ask yourself, is this true? Ask, what does the thought want from you? Where is it in your body? And finally, what is the unmet need?


That my friends, is self-compassion. You noticed yourself suffering and instead of allowing it to take you over, you asked it how you can help it. The next time you are practicing mindfulness bring in this practice. Be the watcher of your thoughts. Notice how they come and go like passing clouds and allow yourself to truly heal by meeting the unmet need of your heavy thoughts.


Here is a YouTube video of a practice called RAIN to help take this even deeper. I hope it serves you the way it has served me. https://youtu.be/p-WKR4loacc And if you enjoy yoga, I am sure you will enjoy this slow flow full class for self- compassion https://youtu.be/9sXnjyCEFGc



Lots of love,

Lauren

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