Ep 101: Exercises in Self-Compassion

In the past few episodes, we’ve been focusing on Self-Compassion.  We took a little break to celebrate the 100th episode of this podcast.  If you haven’t listened to Episode 100, I’d encourage you to go back and listen.  Stay all the way to the end because I’ve got a give-a-way going for the next few weeks and you won’t want to miss that!!

Today, we’re going back for one more episode about Self-Compassion.

I’d like to share some exercises that you can do to help yourself get more into the practice of Self-compassion.

If you’re one of those people, like me, who have had a hard time showing compassion for yourself, I believe that these exercises will help you.

They have helped me and I’m excited to share them with you.

I first learned about exercises in Self-compassion in Kristin Neff’s wonderful book called “Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself”.  I hope you’ll take time to read this book.  It opened up a whole new world of thought to me!

Let’s start first with the Loving Kindness Meditation. (pg. 201-203)

This is a traditional Buddhist practice designed to develop good-will towards ourselves and towards others.

It uses phrases that create feelings of goodness towards various targets, including ourselves.

The goal is to personally experience the loving-kindness being generated.

The basic phrases are:

May I be safe.

May I be peaceful.

May I be healthy.

May I live with ease.

The author, Kristen Neff has changed them a bit to generate greater self-compassion.  See if you can hear the slight differences.

May I be safe.

May I be peaceful.

May I be Kind to myself.

May I accept myself as I am.

May I accept my life as it is.

Remember, it’s important to realize that loving-kindness works best with the level of intention you put in it.

It is not just wishful thinking if you focus on opening your heart to really hear and receive what you are saying.

Let’s do it once together.

I’ll say the phrase first and you repeat it.

I like to do it with my eyes closed so that I am focusing inward instead of looking at things around me.

May I be safe.

May I be peaceful.

May I be Kind to myself.

May I accept myself as I am.

May I accept my life as it is.

I’ve created a little card that you can print off with this Loving-Kindness Meditation on it so you can have it to look at until you memorize it.  Then, share it with a friend.

Go to hunkeedori.com/101 to get that.  I made it really pretty so I hope you like it!!

The second exercise is called the Compassionate Body Scan (pg. 133)

I really like this one, but it’s definitely something I do in a room by myself.  I guess that’s true with most of these.

You could do the Loving-Kindness Meditation in a room full of people and no one would know you are doing it, but this one would be a bit awkward to do with others watching.

Start by lying on the floor or a bed.  Rest your arms about 6 inches away from your body and your legs about shoulder width apart.  This allows you to relax all of the muscles in your body.  I like using my yoga mat to lay on if I’m doing this meditation on the floor.

You’re going to move your focus down from the top of your head to the tips of your toes, focusing on one part of the body at a time.

Start at the top of your head.  Notice if there is any discomfort there.  Is it hot?, cold?, tingling?, itching?, anything?

If there is any discomfort, try to relax and let go of the tension that you’re feeling.

The compassionate part comes in by extending kind, comforting thoughts to this part of your body.

An example would be, “Oh, you’re feeling some tightness there aren’t you.  It’s ok, just relax, I’m going to take care of you.  Go ahead and relax.”  Maybe that sounds a little weird to you, replace my words with your own comforting type words that sound more like you, just make sure they are kind and directed at helping yourself feel more relaxed.

Once you’ve given that part of your body what it needs to relax, or if there wasn’t any discomfort there, you can move onto the next body part.

Slowly move from the top of your head, down to your toes.  Don’t forget to go down your arms too.

As you scan through each body part, give compassion to all the spots of tension.

Consciously try to relax and comfort the areas that feel uncomfortable at all.

You can even try sending gratitude to each area.

I like saying things like, “Thank you neck for holding up my big old head.  That can’t be easy.  I am grateful for your strength to do this for me.”

A little side-note here, when I talk about my big head, I don’t take that as a negative comment.  It is actually a big head.  All of my kids inherited the large circumference of my head but, it is what it is.  No hard feelings or negative thoughts about the size of my head.

This exercise can take anywhere from 5 minutes to a half an hour, depending on what you need.  I suggest taking your time.  It’s one of my favorite things to do when I’m falling asleep.  Showing compassion and gratitude towards my body puts me in a restful condition to sleep better.

Exercise #3 is one that I really, really like.  It’s called Compassionate Imagery (pg. 129-130) and it’s similar to something I learned before having my first baby.

There are 4 steps to this exercise.

#1:   This is the part I learned before having a baby.  Sit in a comfortable spot and close your eyes.  Choose your safe place.  Do this by visualizing in your mind a favorite place you’ve been to before.  Try to recall everything you can about it.  What do you see?  What do you smell?  What is the temperature like?  What colors are most vibrant?  What can you hear?  How do you feel when you are in that place?

#2: Now create in your mind the image of a caring, compassionate person, either alive or dead.  Some people like to choose a religious figure like Jesus Christ, or the Buddha.  Others may choose someone they’ve known who is very compassionate, like a parent, a favorite aunt or a teacher.  Try to visualize this person the best you can, using all of your senses if possible.

Step #3:  If you are suffering through something hard right now, think about the type of caring, wise, and loving things this person would say to you if they were there with you.  What types of feelings would be conveyed to you in the tone of their voice?  What would they say?

Let yourself bask in the warmth of the compassion you feel for this person.  Sit in this feeling for as long as you feel it.  Don’t let yourself rush it.

The final step is step #4: Release the imagery of this compassionate person and take a few slow breaths.  Sit quietly and enjoy the comfort you are feeling.  Remember, whenever you are going through a hard situation, you can pull up the feelings from this exercise.  See that person in your mind and just listen to what they would say to you.

The final exercise I’d like to share with you today is called the Self-Compassion Mantra (pg. 119-122)

If you’re not familiar with a Mantra, it is simple a phrase or set of phrases that you repeat to yourself or as google says: a mantra is a statement or slogan repeated frequently.

It’s something that is used in Meditation to help you stay focused and to settle your brain down when it gets a little overactive.

In this exercise, this mantra is used when you start noticing things you don’t like about yourself or are feeling negative emotions.

When you notice that happening, repeat the following:

This is a moment of suffering.

Suffering is a part of life.

May I be kind to myself in this moment.

May I give myself the compassion I need.

I usually emphasize the word “moment” when I do this for myself.

It helps to remember that all life isn’t hard, this is a moment of suffering.

I will include this Mantra on the PDF download I created for you.  You can grab that at hunkeedori.com/101 to get that.

I would challenge you to take this Mantra and make it as personal to yourself as you can.  Create your own version and recite it as often as you can.  Memorize it so you can give yourself the gift of compassion anywhere.

Learning more about self-compassion has done wonders for my life and I hope you’ve enjoyed the past 5 episodes about it.  I encourage you to learn more about it and do all you can to make room in your life for compassion directed at yourself.

I am in the process of creating a new workshop all about Self-Compassion and I’d love for you to join me in that workshop.  I’ll let you know as soon as I get it done.

If you want to be one of the insiders that knows all the Hunkeedori things, make sure you are in my Keeping it Together Community.  You can join that community either by downloading the Self-Compassion Mantras at hunkeedori.com/101 or by going to: hunkeedori.com/community.  That way, I’ll send you encouraging emails each week that hopefully bring you even more light into your week.

To end this podcast today, I’d like to encourage you to help me get the word out about this podcast.

You can do that in three ways:

Leave a review.

Rate the podcast.

Tell a friend.

I’m going to give you a stronger nudge to leave a review on this podcast.

It’s easy to do.

If you’re listening on your phone, here’s how you do it.

-If you’re already looking at the episodes of my podcast, continue scrolling down.

-You’ll see in bold letters: RATINGS & REVIEWS

-See those hollow stars?

Tap the number of stars you’d like to give me….5 would be awesome!

-Keep scrolling down, you’ll see some of the reviews that others have left me, just below that, it says next to a checked box…WRITE A REVIEW in purple.

-tap that

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This helps more people find the podcast.  It tells Apple to show it to more people and that’s what we want!

To thank those who leave me a review before the end of June, 2023, I am having a give-a-way.

Anyone who leaves a review before June 30, 2023, will be entered into a drawing to win a very Exclusive mug.  I only had 2 made.  I gave one to a friend that is my biggest supporter of the podcast (shout out to Kirsten) and I have one more.  I will send it to one lucky listener who leaves me a review before June 30, 2023.  I want to leave it open for a month because not everyone hears the episodes as soon as they come out.  Thanks in advance to each of you who takes just a few minutes to do that for me.

I’ll post a picture of that mug on Instagram and on my Facebook page so you can see it.  You’ll find me at Hunkeedori everywhere!

Thanks for joining me here today and remember:

I see you.  I understand how hard you’re trying, and I’d like to help however I can.

Have a wonderful day and I’ll see you back here next week.

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Ep 101: Exercises in Self-Compassion