“Learning to embrace yourself and your imperfections gives you the resilience needed to thrive”
In my work of guiding people in their mindfulness journey over the last years, I’ve noticed just how much harsh self-talk, judgment and self-doubt many people can engage in. And I can totally relate to this, in the past, I didn’t treat myself kind for so many years. We can undermine ourselves in so many ways. Especially when things get tough, instead of treating ourselves nice we often add a layer of suffering by shame, self-blame and feelings of inadequacy. There are many reasons for this and I won’t delve into the causes here. But the good news and most relevant right now is that with awareness and compassion practices we can shift things around. Self-compassion is so powerful and transformative. Self-compassion significantly helps reduce anxiety and depression and enhance overall well-being and confidence.
I believe self-compassion, the ability to treat yourself the way you would a good friend who is having a hard time, is a key to healing old and present wounds (which are connected) and breaking away from unhelpful patterns, usually variations of those that involve turning against ourselves be it generally or when things go wrong. When we heal the relationship with ourselves, we can heal our relationship with others, our environment, the world. Self-compassion is NOT selfish but the foundation to being more compassionate to others without depleting ourselves in the process. It actually starts with ourselves and when our own cup is full we can gradually extend our compassion from inside out.
Kristen Race, brain scientist and mother, describes the stress of modern life, which our traditional stress response is often not suited to deal with, and describes how mindfulness can help. As a mother she talks about how mindfulness can help in particular for parents and children alike.
Some of the benefits of Mindfulness described by Professor Mark Williams (Oxford Mindfulness Center). With mindfulness, brain patterns evolve: empathy and compassion increases. The amygdala, the part of our brain triggering fight and flight responses, is inhibited with mindfulness. Mark Williams has co-developed the MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy) to help people with depression. MBCT has now become one of the preferred treatments for depression in the UK and a number of other countries.
Our life starts and ends with a breath. Our breath is amazingly powerful, it keeps us alive and well every second of the day. Usually we don’t pay any conscious attention to it, unless we start meditating.
How we breathe profoundly affects our physical and mental health, how we perform and how we age. Good breathing habits are essential to our wellbeing and vitality and contribute to calm, focused attention, creativity and peak performance. The breath plays an extremely important role in meditation and in healing. Becoming aware of the breath immediately brings us right into the present moment and anchors our awareness into the body and we can tune into our life energy. A few moments of noticing the breath can bring calm and restore balance and stability to the body and mind. Breathing with an attitude of kindness through difficult moments, physical pain or stress, intense emotions such as anger or fear is one of the most healthy habits we can develop. If one can discover the power of the breath at a young age, like these beautiful children in the video it is really a gift. The good news is that it is never too late:)
Harvard research shows that our ability to stay in the moment is directly linked to our happiness. However our minds wander for large amount of our lives : based on this research, 47% of our waking hours are spent not focused on what we are actually doing.