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Lions Roar : November 2015
RESOURCES: How to Make Friends with Yourself Books & Audio HOW TO MEDITATE: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind, by Pema Chödrön (Sounds True) RADICAL ACCEPTANCE: Embracing Your Life with the Heart of a Buddha, by Tara Brach (Bantam) SELF-COMPASSION: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind, by Kristin Neff (HarperCollins) THE MINDFUL PATH TO SELF-COMPASSION: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions, by Christopher Germer (The Guilford Press) LOVING-KINDNESS: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, by Sharon Salzberg (Shambhala) MINDFULNESS IN ACTION: Making Friends with Yourself through Meditation and Everyday Awareness, by Chögyam Trungpa (Shambhala) UNCOVERING HAPPINESS: Overcoming Depression with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, by Elisha Goldstein (Atria Books) SELF-COMPASSION STEP BY STEP: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, by Kristin Neff (Sounds True CD) Websites SELF-COMPASSION.ORG: All-in-one resource for how to practice self-compassion. GREATER GOOD IN ACTION: Science-based practices for a meaningful life, including a number of self-compassion exercises. CENTER FOR MINDFUL SELF-COMPASSION: Tools for those who wish to practice or teach Mindful Self- Compassion. Videos “Pema Chödrön explains Maitri” (YouTube) “The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self-Compassion: Kristin Neff at TEDxCentennialParkWomen” (YouTube) ♦ letting go of unhelpful behaviors. And because self-compassion gives us the safety needed to acknowledge our weaknesses, we’ll be in a stronger position to change them for the better. There is ample evidence to support the idea that self- compassion enhances rather than undermines motivation. For instance, while self-compassionate people are less perfectionis- tic, their standards of performance are no lower. Self-compas- sionate people aim just as high, but recognize and accept that they can’t always reach their goals. As a result, self-compassionate people have less performance anxiety and engage in fewer self-handicapping behaviors such as procrastination. Not only are they less likely to fear failure, but when they do fail they’re more likely to try again and persist in their efforts to learn from the experience and avoid repeating past mistakes. Self-Compassion in Spiritual Practice A decade of research clearly demonstrates that self-compassion is a powerful tool for engendering mental health. I believe that it is also crucial to anyone on the spiritual path. One of the big- gest goals of spiritual practice is to let go of resistance—to stop making things worse by beating our heads against the wall of reality. To let go and let be. When we sit down to meditate, we learn to relate to our ever- changing, moment-to-moment experience with acceptance and equanimity, even when our experience is unwanted or painful. Sometimes, though, if we’re too focused on accepting our painful experience as it is, our practice can become cold. We forget about relating to the experiencer (ourselves) with warmth and kindness. In addition to just accepting our feelings when we’re fright- ened, frustrated, sad, hopeless, or lonely, we can hold ourselves in the tender embrace of self-compassion. We can allow our hearts to melt around the suffering we’re experiencing, at the same time that we accept that the suffering is so. Chris Germer and I have developed an eight-week program to teach skills of self-compassion called Mindful Self-Compassion. A key slogan of MSC is “We give ourselves compassion not to feel better but because we feel bad.” In other words, if we start to use self-compassion as a way to make our pain go away or to manip- ulate our moment-to-moment experience, it will just become a new form of resistance, and inevitably make things worse. If we accept the fact that we feel bad, however, and soothe and comfort ourselves as a natural response, we will have the sense of safety and support needed to be with our experience even more fully. The ultimate goal of spiritual practice is to free ourselves and other beings from suffering. In order to this we must include all beings—and especially ourselves—in our circle of compassion. When our minds are filled with loving, connected presence, we will transform our own lives, and those of everyone we come in contact with. ♦ PHOTOBYKKGAS/STOCKSYUNITED SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2015 63