Loving-kindness and compassion exercises can give a powerful boost to positive thoughts while helping to manage negative thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness and self-compassion practices develop a sense of security and well-being, enabling us to turn toward others with greater capacity.

The Physical and Mental Benefits of Self-Compassion

Cultivating positive emotions like kindness, common humanity, and compassion for ourselves and others increases joy, interest, and contentment. These positive emotions also form a platform of experience to rely on during times of distress and mental unease.

Research shows that self-compassion practice helps improve mental health, increase creativity, and boost overall well-being. Soaking up positive emotions like kindness is much like a sponge soaking up water. It means savoring the good, noticing thoughts and feelings, and sending well-wishes to ourselves and others.

The Power of Kindness and Common Humanity

When we practice compassion, we intentionally send kind thoughts and wishes for happiness to ourselves and others. Whether wishing happiness for ourselves, loved ones, or strangers, the kindness we cultivate internally radiates outward to those around us.

In heartfulness practice, we strengthen kindness by repeating compassionate thoughts and intentions, carving a deeper neural groove in the mind. Over time, instead of defaulting to negative thoughts or feeling inadequate, our minds will naturally tend toward being kind and understanding.

Treat Yourself Like a Friend

Having compassion for ourselves has healing power. We can practice treating ourselves with the same kindness, love, and empathy that we’d offer a good friend. This way, we practice being our own best friend and accepting ourselves just as we are.

Self-compassion increases confidence, creativity, and well-being. It also allows us to fully experience our lives with greater presence, managing challenges more easily and finding more joy in good times.

Common Humanity: A Component of Self-Compassion

We are often taught to be kind to others from a young age but rarely taught to be kind to ourselves. Recognizing our shared human experience helps us understand that negative emotions and challenges are part of being human.

Having compassion and love for oneself doesn’t mean being selfish or obsessed with oneself. It simply means being kind to yourself and appreciating who you are at this moment. Treat yourself with love, kindness, and respect.

“When we treat ourselves with the same love and kindness that we offer a good friend, we are practicing self-compassion.” – Kristin Neff

A Short Self-Compassion Practice: A Compassion Break

  1. Find Your Posture:
    Sit comfortably and upright. When you’re ready, gently close your eyes or gaze downward.
  2. Ground Yourself:
    Feel the weight of your body and the grounding force of gravity. Notice where your body touches the chair or the ground, and let everything sink down through those points. Relax your body and silently say, “Relax, relax.”
  3. Take Deep Breaths:
    Take a few deep breaths, and notice any ease or relaxation as you exhale.
  4. Heartfulness Practice:
    Picture someone in your life who makes you smile. See their face and imagine them sending you wishes like, “May you be happy… May you be healthy… May you be peaceful.”
  5. Repeat the Phrases:
    Repeat these phrases (or your own) slowly and hear them sending these wishes to you. Let their friendship and caring in.
  6. Offer Kind Wishes to Yourself:
    Now offer these good wishes to yourself:
    “May I be happy… May I be healthy… May I be peaceful… May I be kind to myself and accept myself just as I am.”
  7. Notice How You Feel:
    Notice how you feel after offering yourself kind wishes. When you’re ready, slowly open your eyes and look around. Observe how you feel right now.

Final Thoughts

Mindfulness and self-compassion can help us reduce stress and improve both our mental and physical health. Practicing mindful walking, loving-kindness, or other compassion exercises brings us closer to our best selves. Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would treat a friend, and embrace the shared human experience.

Love & Blessings,