According to researcher, Kristin Neff PhD, humans have two systems. One is the old reptilian fight or flight system that releases cortisol and adrenaline and stress into the body. This system is necessary at times for physical survival, but when it is used for psychological survival it most often promotes dis-ease. Another, the mammalian care-providing system, releases the natural and good feeling substances oxytocin and endorphins into the body. Below is a self compassion meditation suggested by Neff to expand this system during times of perceived stress, as a self-guided therapy for anxiety and depression.
Think of a situation in which you are judging yourself harshly.
Hold yourself in a compassionate way (place your hands on your heart or stroke your arm or cheek). Feel the warmth and care as if it is being provided by a good friend.
Say the following phrases to yourself in a kind tone (you may think them or speak them out loud if you are in a safe space to do so):
i. I am aware that I am suffering; or this is really hard right now.
ii. I am not the only one who feels this way. Suffering is part of life, part of the shared human experience.
iii. May I be kind to myself in this moment and give myself the compassion I need.
iv. Say anything else you think of to soothe and comfort yourself.
Watch Kristin Neff, PhD.’s excellent 20 minute Ted Talk on the research and practice of self-compassion.
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Satya Seeker is a pen name. To find out the writer’s real name and more about her, visit her website.