Mindfulness is more than just present moment awareness. It is a kind, curious awareness that helps you relate to yourself and others with compassion without judgement. Whereas self-compassion is turning your reflection inwards to support your own emotional development and acceptance. Therefore, mindful self-compassion is about using targeted mindfulness techniques to support your emotional development
“The most important thing is to remember the most important thing.” – Suzuki Roshi, Zen monk.
This is quite possibly the most important part about mindful self-compassion.
Mindful self-compassion shows us that it is okay to be okay with change and that nothing will stay the same. Often when you are goal driven, mindfulness helps recognise when you get caught up in the day to day things. It gives you a reminder to focus on your goals and remember the bigger picture of how you fit into this world and of the relationships you create and cultivate along the way.
While most people genuinely want to be kind and helpful, it is easy for them to lose touch with their core values when they are in a rush or stressed. However, mindfulness reminds us that it is important to stay abreast of what is happening around you in the present moment and be connected to what is important.
Developing your mindful self-compassion practice
At first you may find that your thoughts are scattered. You may find it challenging to sit still and focus on the pattern of your breath slowly entering and leaving your body. This is completely normal, and it is why we call mindfulness a practice. The harder you try the more stressed you become and punish yourself for not being able to practice mindfulness.
This gets to the point where you are no longer practising mindfulness, but instead you are judging yourself while becoming frustrated and impatient.
In the science of neuroplasticity a powerful concept can shape how the brain experiences mindfulness through continued practice. `What you practice becomes stronger’ – meaning the more you practice something, the easier it becomes.
Mindfulness is not just about paying attention, but also about how you pay attention. This means switching your thinking from frustration about your scattered thoughts to being curious about what comes up for you. This is showing compassion for yourself in a gentle loving way.
Focus on your experience of the mindfulness practice. Get curious of any thoughts or feelings that arise. So as an example if you start to feel a pain become a neutral observer and notice what is happening in your body. Self-compassion allows you to move your attention away from the physical sensation towards positive thinking.
In part two we look deeper into understanding the connection between mindfulness and self-compassion.