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March 5, 2013
self compassion

self compassion

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion”.

Dalai Lama

Last month, in The Musings of the Heart I spoke of self-love at the core of both emotional and physical heart health.

Several of our SmartCare clinicians recently were privileged to attend the FACES Conference on self -compassion and compassion- focused interventions, adding a significant layer of provocative thought and encouragement to our prevention practice.  This is an opportunity to expand upon the practices of Mindfulness, of Affirmations, of Gratitude and of Self-Love and assist those who have the most difficulty with self-criticism, self –judgment and self-blame.

Research supports that self-compassion increases happiness, reduces depression and anxiety, improves  motivation for health related life changes and improves the immune system.

As defined by Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion entails “being kind toward oneself in instances of pain or failure; perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience; and holding painful thoughts and feelings in balanced awareness” (Mindfulness).

As developed through decades of research and innovation by founder Professor Paul Gilbert and his colleagues, Compassion-Focused Therapy integrates evolutionary science, behavior therapy, neuroscience and Buddhist psychology to provide a systematic, responsive and scientifically sound approach to the problem of human suffering.  In compassion-focused therapy the clinician assists the client in developing the attributes of compassion, including care for well-being, sensitivity, sympathy, distress tolerance, empathy and non-judgement, and in directing these attributes toward themselves.

This is done through helping the client develop the skills of compassion: compassionate attention (to their strengths and positive attributes, compassionate reasoning (in place of self-critical thinking), compassionate behaviors (especially when faced with frightening or challenging growth or development), compassionate imagery, compassionate feeling and compassionate sensation.

Of course, as humans, we all have the capacity for compassion, for self and for others.  Alas, it is at times easier to be compassionate towards others than it is towards ourselves.  And, through various experiences of trauma, abuse, and other life events, our capacity to tap into our compassionate selves can be more challenging.  And so given the opportunity to deepen our appreciation for those experiences that bring us joy and gratitude, and increase our ability to live more fully and in wellness, regardless of the changes and challenges that we encounter, I suggest that we embrace these self-compassion practices.

Pamela Sachs Bryson, LCSW

“The sooner one develops compassion in this journey, the better. Compassion lets us appreciate that each individual is doing what he or she must do, and that there is no reason to judge another person or oneself. You merely do what you can to further your own awakening. “

Ram Dass

self love

self love

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