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Self-Compassion and Mindfulness, Part II

Abby Hauer, MC, LAC

Self-Compassion and Mindfulness, Part II: How Do I Put It in Practice?

More on Mindfulness

Mindfulness does not have to be five minutes of silence or a guided meditation. Mindfulness can be incorporated into your life anyway that you see fit! The most important part of being mindful is bringing your awareness to what’s happening in the moment. Not thinking about what you could be doing in five minutes or what you did ten minutes ago. It’s living life completely in the present moment. Taking in what you see, hear, smell, and sometimes taste. For me it can be as simple as truly listening to what someone is saying to me instead of thinking of a response in my head while they are talking. Or even just enjoying a piece of candy and savoring every flavor! Being in the present moment is a constant practice and perfection is not the goal. Self-compassion is such a crucial part of mindfulness because we have to give ourselves grace and recognize it’s okay to not be perfect. It allows us to be kind to ourselves when we notice our mind has shifted away. 

How Can I Start a Mindfulness Practice?

You can ease into mindfulness by introducing a noting practice into your routine. A noting practice is a technique that helps keeps you focused on the present moment. I like to view my own noting practice as a self-awareness exercise. You don’t have to do it constantly, which is something I find enticing and it helps pull your distracted mind back to the present. What you do is when you notice your thoughts have drifted and you feel yourself being pulled out of the present moment you take a mental note of where your mind shifted to, then you can bring yourself back to where your attention was originally. You can also use this to note different emotions you experience in a day or during certain situations. It can give insight into where your thoughts tend to shift or what emotions come up for you frequently. Not every thought or feeling we have is fact and instead of becoming emotionally bothered by it, you can try noticing them with no judgement and let your mind wander back to where you began. What I like the most about doing a noting practice is how it can vary from person to person. Maybe you decide to use it to become more aware of your reactions, your responses, or what you feel in your body. Or maybe you decided that you are going to be more mindful during your morning routine. Instead of just going through the motions, you take time to notice them. You can implement a noting practice into any activity you like, it’s that simple. Mindfulness helps us create space in certain aspects of our life so we can respond in a helpful way rather than harmful way. 

What Can I Do When I Notice I Am in Pain?

Being in pain is part of the shared human experience. If you take every opportunity of pain or discomfort as a chance to give yourself love and kindness, you may be surprised by how much better that feels than contempt and criticism. Most of us are aware that when we feel threatened by others, our flight or fight response is activated. Emotional abuse can activate this response and what people may not know is that when we emotionally abuse ourselves, the same response is activated. Changing our response to words of kindness and comfort not only allows us space to make mistakes but it also allows your body to remain in a state of equilibrium. Marshall Rosenberg, who is the author of Nonviolent Communication, stresses the importance of being kind and sympathetic to ourselves. He suggests four questions we can ask ourselves to express more empathy for our basic human needs. Those questions are listed below.

  •       What am I observing?
  •       What am I feeling?
  •       What am I needing right now?
  •       Do I have a request of myself or someone else? 

Perhaps next time you are not being kind to yourself, you can re-align your thoughts with these questions to move toward a more productive and helpful thought process.

Rosenberg, M. B. (2003). Nonviolent communication: A language of life. Encinitas, CA: PuddleDancer Press.

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