Self-compassion in mindfulness practice

In last week’s article, you were offered some practical tips for integrating mindfulness into your daily routine. In the beginning, this may feel like an exercise in discipline. With a dedicated practice, however, you will find that it becomes more a way of life than a task on your to do list.

In practicing mindfulness it won’t be long before you start taking notice of not only yourself but the environments within which you move. As you practice presence you will also begin to recognise how many of your fellow human beings are often absent. This is a natural part of the process.

While mindfulness is simply defined as the practice of presence, its essence is steeped in compassion, both for self and others. Compassion does not mean sympathising with the intention of finding a solution. Compassion is to embrace things as they are with an open heart, which is much easier to write than to enact on the everyday.

Here are some tips on how to remain compassionate on your journey:

  • Treat yourself: When you start to focus on being present, you might be surprised to find how much of what you do is performed on autopilot. Celebrate cultivating awareness instead of punishing yourself when you slip into old patterns.
  • Don’t judge: There is no such thing as meditating badly! Try not to compare sittings or exercises. Let go of your outcome bias. No matter if your thoughts wander or if you are completely still, everything is as it should be.
  • Don’t project: Once you’re in full swing, you may be tempted to identify and focus on  others’ faults. Keep that awareness focused on you. Everyone has their own path to travel.
  • Don’t get attached: Try not to stress about yesterday and tomorrow. Your mindfulness practice will have ups and downs just as everything else does too. Don’t compare yourself with others, and don’t compare one exercise or sitting with another.
  • Find balance: Many people struggle with the thought that if they are learning to accept things as they are, then there’s a fine line to becoming complacent. Acceptance means that you are able to be fully aware without judgment, where judgment can be positive or negative. Complacency, on the other hand, is a type of self-satisfaction that is based on a lack of awareness.

Be gentle when you remind yourself of these tips. And remember that it’s a process. Not everything will come at once nor is it meant to. Settle in and enjoy the ride.