Caring for Carers with Self-Compassion
Introducing Mindfulness & Self-Compassion
How to approach iCare
It’s an experiment…
You’re going to be learning various techniques and principles of mindfulness and self-compassion, but please feel free to experiment in making them work for you and fit YOUR life.
Stick with it!! The feedback from other carers is that it takes at least two weeks before they ‘get’ what iCare is about.
If you can, just keep up with the practices and see what happens. It’s not an overnight thing. Just like going to the gym it takes a bit of time before you see muscles developing.
Take your time. Allow around a week for each module
If you race through each module there isn’t enough time to explore the different practices and meditations and to let yourself get an understanding of them.
Formal & Informal Meditation
iCare’s main goal is to start to help you know
(1) when you are struggling and suffering and
(2) to respond to that struggle and to daily life with kindness and compassion.
Mindfulness and self-compassion can be cultivated during
formal meditations (when we might sit or lie down and listen to one of the guided meditations in iCare) or informally as we move through the day. However, since we spend around 18 hours of life awake (and not sitting or lying down meditating!) informal practice becomes very important.
Formal and informal practices reinforce each other.
The idea is for you to find a way that works best for you and to gradually work up to about 20 minutes per day of formal and/or informal practice.
Module One is the longest module in the whole programme because we are covering a lot of ground. Don't worry the other three are much shorter!
We start iCare by exploring ‘mindfulness’. Please watch the video above which will introduce you to mindfulness.
A Little Bit of Science
This segment provides a background into the iCare concept.
Neuroscience suggests we have three main ways of regulating our emotions. (see image right) and watch the video for further explanation of the science.
Three Circle Model of Major Emotion Regulation Systems
Adapted from The Compassionate Mind (Gilbert, 2010)
We are now going to explore the first practice which is the Soothing Touch practice. Click on the link below to listen to the instructions on how to find your Soothing Touch.
Sometimes you don't immediately find a Soothing Touch. Watch the video (right) which will explain more about Soothing Touch and will give you some ideas if you didn’t find a Soothing Touch
Canine Soothing Touch
Featuring Dylan, this video shows how you can achieve a soothing touch using your favourite pet. A process that’s not only relaxing and calming for you, you’ll find your pet rather enjoys it too.
We have had a look at mindfulness and tried to find a Soothing Touch.
Now we are going to explore self-compassion.
Watch the video (right) to get a brief explanation about self-compassion. If you would rather read about self-compassion feel free to ignore the video and click on the Download button below and to the right to get some written notes about self-compassion.
Self Compassion Document
Read more about self compassion by
clicking the PDF link here.
The Body Scan
So now we are moving away from some of the science and we are going to look at one of the core iCare meditations.
Play the recording of a body scan meditation. This is one of the core formal meditations in iCare and for some carers it’s their favourite. If you can, practice it once a day at least for the next seven days, finding a quiet place and a time when you won’t be disturbed.
Some carers practice the body scan as soon as they wake up, some just before they go to bed at night whilst others listen to it if they wake up in the middle of the night and even if they don’t drift off to sleep they generally feel calmer.
Find a time and place that works for you.
So, what was the Body Scan like?
Did your mind drift off into thinking about other things? Great, that’s what minds are designed to do – don’t worry. Whenever you notice your mind has drifted off just gently bring your attention back to the body part you’re meant to be focusing on at that moment.
Keep going with the Body Scan – it’s a very valuable practice even if you find it difficult at first.
Let me know how you get on with it in the Module One Feedback form
Informal Practice: Mindfulness in Daily Life
As well as practising the Body Scan over the next seven days you can also practice mindfulness in day to day life. Even though life is pressurised and there’s little time for yourself you can squeeze in a bit of informal practice
So over the next seven days, each day:
Pick an ordinary activity.
You might choose drinking your cup of coffee or tea in the morning, brushing your teeth, taking a shower, putting the kettle on, stroking the dog or cat, eating a biscuit or a piece of chocolate, drinking a glass of wine or going into the garden.
Then really experience that activity – use your senses, touch, sight, smell, sounds- so that means feeling the sensation of taste as you drink the coffee or the sensation of water touching your body while showering, exploring the taste of the chocolate as it melts on your tongue, listening to the kettle boil etc. Take your time, don’t rush it!
Immerse yourself in the experience, savouring it to the fullest. Really enjoy what it feels like, your mind will drift off (that’s what minds do so don’t worry) Bring your attention back to the sensations again and again when you notice it has wandered away.
Let me know which activities you’ve chosen in the Module One feedback form.
Practice Advice & Meditations
Finally, a Question to keep on asking yourself…
Each day practice pausing (particularly when you are feeling stressed, irritable or upset) and asking yourself:
‘What do I need right now?’ Or ‘What’s the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?’
Wait for your inner voice to respond – there will be an answer but you just need to listen. So you might hear that you need some fresh air, a cup of tea, a hug, or it may be that your inner self says ‘this is how it is right now’ and that a soothing touch helps.
The mere practice of stopping and turning inwards can be very powerful and soothing.
If you want to explore meditation further or you just want a short practice to fit in with life here are two five-minute practices you can listen to
Practice for the next 7 days
Aim to practice the body scan once a day.
Practice finding a soothing touch that works for you, experiment with it and try it out at least once a day.
Mindfulness in Daily Life – each day choose an activity to savour
Each day practice pausing (particularly when you are feeling stressed, irritable or upset) and asking yourself ‘What do I need right now?’Or ‘What’s the kindest thing I can do for myself right now?’ and wait for your inner voice to respond.
STICK with it – it will be worth it.
That’s it – you got to the end of Module One!
We’ve covered a lot of information in this module but the other modules won’t be as long.
I’ll see you back in seven days(ish) and don’t forget you’ll need to answer the Module One questions below before you move on to Module Two.