Mindfulness Skills4Life

Feast on some mindful pampering this Christmas

Mindful breathing: breathe better

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Self-compassion break for tricky moments

Try this exercise when things feel a little tough. We suggest writing down the three key phrases and popping them in your wallet / purse until you have memorised them. Super charge the feeling of giving care for yourself by placing a hand on your heart or arm as you try this out. The more you do it, the more your brain why know how to speak to you at times of need.

The self-compassion break was developed by Dr. Kristin Neff, as a daily life practice. These three phrases (bold, below) can be seen as a self-compassion mantra, a set of memorised phrases that are repeated silently, whenever you want to give yourself compassion in response to something that it is a little tricky. They are most useful in the heat of the moment whenever strong feelings of distress arise. You might find these phrases work for you, but it’s worth experimenting with them to see if you can find the wording that works best for you. What’s important is that all three aspects of self-compassion (underlined text) are evoked and the attitudes that we cultivate during practice, not the particular words used.

Now, say to yourself:

  1. This is a moment of suffering - That’s mindfulness. Other options include:

  2. This hurts.

    I can see that I am finding this situation challenging / upsetting right now.

    This is stress.

  3. Suffering is a part of life - That’s common humanity. Other options include:

  4. Other people feel this way.

    I’m not alone.

    We all struggle in our lives.

    Now, put your hands over your heart, feel the warmth of your hands and the gentle touch of your hands on your chest. Or adopt another soothing touch / gesture you feel comfortable with.

    Say to yourself:

  5. May I be kind to myself - Respond with kindness. You can also ask yourself, “What do I need to hear right now to express kindness to myself?” Is there a phrase that speaks to you in your particular situation, such as:

  6. May I give myself the compassion that I need.

    May I learn to accept myself as I am.

    May I forgive myself.

    May I be strong in this moment.

    May I be patient.

Offering ourselves a tender touch

Often when we receive news of a shocking incident or troubling news, we automatically place our hand on our heart or chest area. This is because a lot of emotional responses are felt in the chest i.e. shock, pain, discomfort. Equally, it is understood that our bodies and our instincts respond to comfort here too. Drs. Christopher Germer and Kristin Neff developed and introduced a self-soothing gesture that is encouraged when training in compassion. The gesture involves placing our hand (or clasped hands) on our heart, during any of the sitting practices we undertake. We are not trying to make anything change by using this gesture, but rather it conveys an attitude of support, a sense of care and an embodied voice that is offering soothing words of “ it’s OK to feel the way you do, I understand, I am here for you right now”. The soothing touch gesture can be included as we settle the mind (during the first stages of our mindfulness practice) and when we are using the breath as mindfulness support (towards the end of the practice). Either way will support the intention of self-soothing, generating a warm, kindly attitude towards ourselves.

Practice: The self-compassion break

This guided practice lasts for ~ 5 minutes. As best you can, ensure you will have no distractions, switch off your phone if at all possible and find a seated position that feels right for you. If you think you may be cold, place a blanket over you or have it close by. Then follow the instructions on the audio.

Once you have finished take a moment to consider your experience and jot down the answers to the following questions. You can record these electronically or in a hand-written journal.

The self-compassion break

Gratitude: growing awareness of the good

Maybe before you go to bed, try writing a little duvet diary? Making a deliberate note in your mind and on paper of things that have gone well, made you feel uplifted or a moment of beauty in nature, or noticing a pleasant experience. Write it down and replay it back in as much detail in your mind… Follow out simply guide shown here and try and LIST 3 THINGS EACH other night….

Bonus audio:

Mindful me, drinking mindful tea (or coffee or even mulled wine!)

I initially recorded this for a cuppa at work. It is equally helpful to practice this at any time and at any place. Give yourself the break you truly deserve!

Mindful tea break

Check our some of our upcoming courses and mindfulness sessions

Come to our CLAY café and reCLAYm some calm (5 weekly sessions, face to face)

Regular online mindfulness and meditation practice sessions

Reduce stress & manage thoughts – join the acclaimed Mindfulness Based Living Course - new year dates coming soon