According to the researcher, Kristin Neff PhD, humans have two systems. The first one is the old reptilian fight or flight system that releases cortisol and adrenaline and stress into the body. Even though this system is necessary at times for physical survival, 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.
First, think of a situation in which you are judging yourself harshly.
Next, 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 a good friend is providing it.
Finally, 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 am aware that I am suffering, or this is really hard right now.
- I am not the only one who feels this way.
- Suffering is part of life, part of the shared human experience.
- May I be kind to myself in this moment and give myself the compassion I need.
Say anything else you think of to soothe and comfort yourself.
Watch Kristin Neff, PhD.’s excellent 6-minute TEDTalk on the three components of self-compassion.
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Bobbi Rudin, wrote this blog. She is a mind body spirit healthcare writer and instructor.