Module Two: Blending Mindfulness & Self Compassion
In this module we’re going to deepen our practice of mindfulness through introducing two more meditations and an informal practice.
We start with the practice of Affectionate Breathing.
This has been recorded in two versions one of around 20 minutes the other just under 10 minutes duration. If you’re short of time, then listen to the short version but if you have more time
I’d encourage you to try the longer practice at least once.
Here are the two versions of Affectionate Breathing, one longer and the other a shorter meditation.
How did you find Affectionate Breathing?
How that was practice for you?
You may have noticed that your mind wandered a lot during the meditation. All minds do that. Please don’t judge yourself for having a human mind that wanders a lot, and if you are judging yourself, perhaps offer yourselves some kindness and compassion for that human tendency as well.
If you’ve practised a breath meditation before, how was it to bring affection and appreciation into this meditation?
Don’t forget to let me know how it went in the Module Two Feedback Questions at the end of this module.
Now that you’ve practised Affectionate Breathing do you have any sense of what you need right now? [e.g. a cup of tea, listen to some music, chocolate, a walk outside…?]
So, some people may have had a fairly negative reaction to this meditation. Sometimes when we’re really in the habit of not being kind and compassionate to ourselves, when we start to be a little kinder to ourselves it can make us realise how much we’ve been lacking in kindness, love, compassion for ourselves.
If you aren’t feeling anything, or you’re feeling numb or a bit irritated or anxious then that’s ok and that’s perfectly natural. Just go slowly and take your time to build the skills to be more self-compassionate.
More about Affectionate Breathing
The research shows that people who are more self-compassionate are happier and have less anxiety and depression than those who are less self-compassionate.
But if at any time in any of the exercises or the meditations I lead, you feel like it’s too much for you - stop! Take a break, have a cup of tea.
I don’t want this experience to be stressful or painful nor do I want you to judge yourself for somehow not feeling as self-compassionate or affectionate towards yourself as you think you might be.
This is very, very normal, a lot of people struggle at first especially if they aren’t used to being self-compassionate. So, don’t use this as another excuse to beat yourself up; rather use this as an excuse to have another opportunity to be kind to yourself and thank yourself for just being willing to try.
If you’ve got time, why don’t you try the next practice, or you can always come back to it later.
Self-Compassion Break: Your Reaction
What was the Self-Compassion Break like?
If you found it hard to say the words to yourself could you say them to a friend?
What was it like to then say the same words to yourself? Easier? More difficult?
Do write any thoughts in the feedback form at the end of this module.
Left is a short video giving you some ideas for using the Self-Compassion Break
Informal Practice: Self-Compassion Break
This is a practice designed to help you when you’re feeling stressed and wrung out by the challenge of caring or maybe there are other problems you are having to face that you are feeling overwhelmed by.
In the Self-Compassion Break we repeat a set of words to ourselves, but it is VERY important that you use words that you are comfortable with, that don’t create an argument in your head; feel free to change the words I use to something that fits you better.
What we are doing in this practice is sending good wishes to ourselves. It can feel awkward at first and you may not feel anything but that’s ok, keep practising it a few more times before you decide if it’s for you or not.
Now listen to the Self-Compassion Break
One final practice.
Many other carers who have been through this programme tell me that the Pause is one of the practices that they use the most. It’s very simple but don’t let that deceive you. In its own way it’s very powerful.
This is a simple short practice that you can try particularly when you are busy or worrying about the future or caught up in the past.
Begin by stopping what you are doing and take three conscious breaths – breathe in and out slightly deeper and more slowly than normal. Then ask yourself one of the following questions:
What is going on for me right now?
What sensations am I aware of in my body?
How am I feeling right now?
Then just notice how you feel emotionally or in your body.
That’s it - you’re not trying to change how you are feeling but with just three breaths you are creating a pause or a gap in the jumble of constant thoughts that’s usually going on in our minds.
By pausing you are just simply being. Then go on with whatever you were doing.
Suggestions for the next 7 days.
Aim to practice the Body Scan or Affectionate Breathing once a day
Practice the Self-Compassion Break when stressed or feeling a little over-whelmed.
Keep on using your Soothing Touch if that works for you.
Practice The Pause at least once each day
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?’
Keep going - remember this work will support you and help you during this difficult time.
I’ll see you back in seven days(ish) and don’t forget you’ll need to complete the Module Two questions below before you move on to Module Three.