What is Mindful Self-Compassion? (Incl. 3 Exercises + Workbooks)

What is mindful self-compassion
Image by Cat Lane via Designspiration.net

When we talk about mindfulness, there are a number of thoughts that come to mind. We know it’s about building our own sense of self-awareness, creating a greater connection with our bodies and emotions, and a stronger presence within our immediate environments.

We might even know that mindfulness can help us manage a number of mental disorders, including depression and anxiety, and help us achieve a sense of calm in our often-overloaded daily lives.

But what about mindfulness for self-compassion?

We’re often pretty good at demonstrating compassion for others, but not so much for the self. Self-compassion can be an incredibly tricky process to fully adopt. Where mindfulness can feel like self-care, self-compassion can often be mixed up with feelings of self-indulgence (Rockman, 2016).

It’s good to know that psychologists are beginning to connect the two, with some incredible results, and Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is emerging as a beneficial concept in its own right.

Read on to find out more about Mindful Self-Compassion.

 

What is Mindful Self-Compassion?

Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) is the process of combining the skills developed through mindfulness with the emotional practice of self-compassion. While on first glance, the two might seem highly correlated, there is a distinction to be made. To really understand how the two work together, it’s good to have a definition of each concept.

 

Definition of Mindfulness

According to the American Psychological Association (APA, 2012), mindfulness is:

“A moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”

More popular definitions of mindfulness come from the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, Jon Kabat-Zinn, who advocates for mindfulness as a process of awareness for the present moment, and exploration of emotions and feelings without judgment.

 

Definition of Self-Compassion

Most of us find it easy to demonstrate compassion for a friend or loved one when they’re experiencing a difficult time in life. But when we experience difficulties ourselves, we’re less able to apply the same compassion we would show others to the self. We often become overly critical and judgmental, thinking destructive internal thoughts about who we are and how we behave.

A great definition for self-compassion comes from Chris Germer, co-founder of the Mindful Self-Compassion Center:

“Self-compassion involves the capacity to comfort and soothe ourselves, and to motivate ourselves with encouragement, when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate. Self-compassion is learned in part by connecting with our innate compassion for others, and self-compassion also helps to grow and sustain our compassion for others.”

So, self-compassion is about reflecting on how you can turn the concept of compassion inwards, to support your own emotional development and acceptance.

Mindfulness generally requires us to be able to pay attention to any experience or emotive feeling – positive, negative or neutral – with acceptance and without attaching constructs. Self-compassion is generally more embedded in developing an understanding and acceptance of solely negative experiences or emotions.

Mindfulness within self-compassion is about using mindfulness in a more targeted way, to support emotional development with overcoming feelings of personal suffering (Germer, 2009).

Mindful Self-Compassion sees us taking both of these ideas and combining them, so we’re using the sense of awareness and presence developed with mindfulness, and applying it to support our emotional development for self-compassion (Neff & Germer, 2012).

 

A Look at the Research

The research surrounding Mindful Self-Compassion still tends to fall into two camps: studies looking at self-compassion and studies looking at mindfulness. However, more research is beginning to emerge specifically focused on connecting the two, and on Mindful Self-Compassion as its own concept.

Below is an overview of some of the key studies in each of the three areas:

 

Research on Self-Compassion

Psychological studies on self-compassion have revealed a huge range of benefits for those who indicate a strong disposition towards self-compassion, including better acceptance for negative experiences and the ability to move past difficult emotions (Leary et al, 2007).

Other key findings include:

  • Neff (2012) conducted a review of the research to date on self-compassion and found that self-compassion is consistently linked to predicting lower levels of anxiety and depression.
  • Individuals with a higher sense of self-compassion (self-rated) were found to have decreased levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), which was associated with a greater ability to gain emotional control and self-soothe when stressed (Rockliff et al, 2008).
  • Self-compassion has been associated with a range of positive psychological strengths including optimism, curiosity, initiative, and emotional intelligence (Heffernan et al, 2010).
  • Neff & Beretvas (2012) found that individuals with a higher sense of self-compassion had improved relationship functioning, and reported higher empathetic tendencies, altruism and forgiveness for others in their close relationships (Neff & Pommier, 2012).
  • Strong self-compassion has also been associated with positive health behaviors including cutting down on smoking (Kelly et al, 2009), exercising and dieting (Magnus, Kowalski & McHugh, 2010) and seeking appropriate medical attention (Terry & Leary, 2011).

 

Research on Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been identified as one crucial way to improve compassion for others and the self. It has also been identified as having a wide range of positive benefits for emotional, mental and physical health (Kidwell & Hasford, 2014, Remmers, Topolinski, & Koole, 2016 and Garland & Howard, 2013).

Key research in the area of mindfulness include:

  • Research has examined the effect of mindfulness on the physical development of the brain. Lutz, Dunne & Davidson (2008) focused their research on how mindfulness affects the Amygdala – the area of the brain primarily responsible for emotions – and found that during mindfulness exercises, this part of the brain was less active. Further research by Goldin & Gross (2010) found that mindfulness generated more activity in the Hippocampus – the area of the brain primarily associated with memory.
  • Further research exploring how the brain responds to mindfulness found that the prefrontal cortex – the area responsible for impulse control – became more active during mindful practice (Chiesa & Serretti, 2010). This suggests that mindfulness can help us develop greater control over our impulses.
  • Carson et al (2004) explored how mindfulness impacts our personal relationships and found that participants who practiced mindfulness regularly reported higher relationship satisfaction, feeling ‘closer’ to their partner and overall healthier relationship management.

 

The most popular training program, and area of research study, in mindfulness, is the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction program (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn (Kabat-Zinn, 1982). It’s effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety has been well documented (Segal, Teasdale, & Williams, 2002).

A variant of the MBSR is the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy program, which was developed for clinical use. Meta-analytic reviews of both programs have consistently found that they lead to both psychological and physiological improvements for participants (Chiesa & Serretti, 2009, and Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010).

 

Research Connecting Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

As the research has overwhelmingly found positive outcomes for those with strong self-compassion, further research has sought to find ways to help support others build their own self-compassion or enhance their self-compassion. A strong body of research now exists that suggests participation in both the MBSR and the MBCT programs also increases self-compassion (Lee & Bang, 2010, Rimes & Wingrove, 2011, Shapiro, and Brown, & Biegel, 2007).

Key studies connecting mindfulness and self-compassion include:

  • Beddoe & Murphy (2004) found that nurses who participated in the MBSR program reported that their mindfulness practice helped them to develop more compassion and empathy for the passionate, and also helped their own self-compassion so they didn’t take on the negative emotions of their patients.
  • Shapiro et al (2005) also found that health care professionals who completed the MBSR program reported an increase in feelings of self-compassion and reduced stress.
  • Kuyken et al (2010) found that depressed participants who engaged in the MBCT program reported increased feelings of self-compassion. Their study also found that it was the greater sense of self-compassion that participants attributed to a reduced relapse into depressive episodes.
  • After developing the Mindful Self-Compassion program, Neff and Germer (2012) conducted a pilot study to explore the impact on self-compassion. From two control studies, they found that participants reported significant self-compassion gains following the program, which were maintained at both 6 months and 1-year follow-ups.

 

Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

If you’re wanting to improve your self-compassion, developing your mindfulness skills could be an excellent place to start.

While the two are distinct practices in their own right, combining them can lead to incredible personal results. In more general mindfulness practice, the focus is on the experience component – thoughts, feelings, physical sensations – and how to direct or develop your thoughts around the experience.

For example, if the experience were chronic pain, through mindfulness you would focus on understanding the physical aspects of the experience, and directing your thinking from negative – ‘this is terrible pain’ – to a neutral exploration of what is happening in your body.

However, in the targeted practice of mindfulness for self-compassion, the emphasis is very much on the individual as the experiencer. Again, in the experience of chronic pain, mindfulness in the context of self-compassion moves from the physical sensations to thoughts about the experience that are turned inwards, redirecting negative thoughts of ‘this is my fault’ to more neutral or positive thinking.

Self-compassion has a focus on the self and on soothing the individual when distressing situations occur. Through mindfulness, the individual can transform their remit of experience as an individual, and redirect or transform negative thoughts.

In the context of self-compassion, mindfulness can also help to build awareness of negative or painful experiences, emotions or thoughts, in ways that allow self-acceptance without rumination. Neff (2003) coined the term ‘over-identification’, which is essentially the process of ruminating on negative or painful experiences and allowing this narrative to dictate our thought processes.

It can be a difficult balancing act when attempting to generate self-compassion to ensure you are focusing on the acceptance of the experience over reliving the painful narrative over and over again. This is were targeted mindfulness, which places an emphasis on acceptance, can support the self-compassion journey (Germer, 2009).

 

How to Best Practice Mindful Self-Compassion

The negative thoughts or emotions that can fill our minds and stop us for fully developing a strong self-compassion practice are often ingrained and difficult to overcome. To build a solid practice of Mindful Self-Compassion takes time and requires, as you might guess, a lot of compassion.

To start developing a Mindful Self-Compassion practice, you first have to explore and understand the barriers you might have that prevent you from self-compassion. This will be entirely dependent on your individual life experiences and beliefs. One way to do this is to reflect on the core (usually negative) beliefs you currently hold about yourself. Write them down and then ask yourself:

  • How does it make you feel once written down?
  • When did you first develop this belief? What experiences are connected to it?
  • What external experiences or situations trigger this belief about yourself?
  • Who encourages this belief about yourself?
  • How would your life look if you didn’t believe this about yourself?

 

Now you have the starting point of your Mindful Self-Compassion practice. Changing these beliefs will take patience, but sticking with it could generate a lot of positive change for your personal development.

The next steps of your journey could include:

  1. Develop an awareness for triggers – When negative self-beliefs arise, try to pinpoint what caused them. Where were you, who were you with, what was said? The point of this exercise is not to learn to avoid triggers but develop a greater understanding of what they are.
  2. Practice Mindfulness – Incorporate a daily mindfulness practice, specifically focused on or around your triggers. Explore what emotions or internal thoughts arise. How would you prefer to think or feel in these moments? What phrases can help transform your emotional reactions to your triggers?
  3. Explore difficult emotions or thoughts – Similar to how you wrote down your core beliefs when they arise bring your mind back to these questions. Build your awareness and understanding of judgmental or negative thoughts about the self, by attaching them to their origins.
  4. Embrace what you’ve been avoiding – Often we avoid or try to remove negative triggers from our lives. Identify how or when you might be doing this, and accept this as a part of who you are. It’s a self-preservation tactic. Instead, try to allow yourself space to acknowledge and accept what you’ve been avoiding.
  5. Be your own best friend – When you do feel negative thoughts of judgment for the self begin to arise again, ask yourself how you would respond to a best friend who thought or felt that way about themselves? Would you be cruel and critical, or kind and compassionate? Apply this to yourself.

 

 

3 Mindful Self-Compassion Exercises

There are many different self-compassion exercises available to help you understand how to build Mindful Self-Compassion into your life. Below I’ve detailed three of the more introductory exercises that are a great starting point to begin familiarizing yourself with the practice.

 

1. ‘How Would You Treat A Friend?’ Exercise

This simple to follow exercise is a great starting point for identifying how you would treat others, versus how you would treat yourself in a challenging situation. All you need is a pen, paper, and an honest mind.

To begin:

  • Think back to a time when a friend or loved one has been struggling in some way: perhaps through a big life change, a relationship break-up, or health issue. If you can’t recall a direct experience, try to envision someone close to you going through a difficult experience.
  • Next, ask yourself how you would respond. What would you say? How would you say it? What questions would you ask? What little gestures would you make to show your loved one you care? Write out what the best version of you would do in this scenario.
  • Now think about a time when you have been in a similar situation, or envision yourself in a similar situation. Write down what your immediate thoughts and feelings about yourself are in this situation. How do you talk to yourself? What words, language, and tone do you use to describe yourself in this scenario? How do you treat your thoughts, emotions or your body?
  • Compare the two ways you react with one another. Do you notice any differences? What are they? What fears are being played out in how you treat yourself versus others? Why do you think this is?
  • On a fresh piece of paper write out how you want to be treated. What words, gestures, and behaviors do you need to feel more accepting and supportive of the self when you experience difficulties? Use this to guide your mindfulness when reflecting on self-compassion.

 

2. ‘Identify What You Want’ Exercise

This exercise turns a focus on the ways we can often try to use criticism as a motivator (which never really works) and instead aims to correct this faulty way of thinking to use Mindful Self-Compassion to motivate you to achieve your goals. You’ll just need a pen and paper.

To begin:

  • Think about a specific goal or aim you’ve been wanting to achieve. This could be big or small: a weight goal, savings/financial goal, self-care goal, etc. How long have you wanted to achieve this goal? How many times have you started and stopped?
  • Now, think about the language, words, and tone you use when working towards this goal. How do you describe or think about yourself? How critical is this language? How positive is this language? Often, we think that being critical of ourselves will help motivate us to change, but this is rarely true.
  • Reflect on how the process of criticism actually makes you feel. Do you feel motivated or let down? Positive or deflated? Start seeing how this way of thinking really makes you feel versus how you think it might make you feel.
  • Now, focus on flipping the language. Write down words or phrases that do actually make you feel motivated. With your goal or aim, think about why you want to achieve it, and write these out in positive affirmations with a focus on how good it can make you feel.
  • When you catch yourself being critical or overly judgmental about yourself, your goals, or lack of achieving them, reflect back on this exercise. Use mindfulness to start amending your thinking to be more compassionate and motivating.

 

3. ‘The Criticizer, The Criticized, and the Compassionate Observer’ Exercise

This exercise is a little more advanced and has been developed from the two-chair dialogue exercise, originally developed through Gestalt Theory (Greenberg & Webster, 1982). It encourages you to become more connected with three different parts of yourself: The Criticizer, The Criticized and the Compassionate Observer. You will need three chairs, a pen, and paper.

To begin:

  • Set out three empty chairs and give each one an individual label: The Criticizer (your inner self-critic), The Criticized (your internal part of you that feels judged), and the Compassionate Observer (the part of you able to offer wisdom and compassion).
  • Think on the topic or belief you have about yourself that you want to generate better self-compassion for. Take the seat of The Critizer and express out loud how this ‘voice’ would speak about you or the belief you want to explore. What words, language, and phrases do they use? What tone do they use? How does this make you feel?
  • Next, still thinking on the same belief, take the chair of The Criticized. Verbalize how The Critizer makes you feel. Do you feel hurt, angry, sad or anxious? Maybe all of these emotions to different degrees? Respond directly to your inner critic out loud telling them how the things they say about you make you feel.
  • You can switch between the two seats for this dialogue for as long as you feel comfortable, ensuring that you go in depth in each ‘role’ and explore deeply how each component makes you feel.
  • Now take the seat of The Compassionate Observer. Try and tap into your deepest, most compassionate self and think about how you would respond to each of the other ‘roles’ without judgment. Verbalize out loud what you would say to each party, making connections with your core belief and why you feel you hold this belief. Try to uncover any common ground that may exist between The Critizer or The Criticized. What phrases do you use? What’s your tone? How do you build compassion into your words?
  • Stop at any point that feels right for you. You can repeat this exercise as many times as you like, but try to make sure you reflect each time. Write down any new insights that come up and make a note to explore this further. Set an intention after each session to change how you phrase something as The Critizer or how you respond as The Criticized.

 

These exercises were taken from the fantastic resources page of the Mindful Self-Compassion Program, developed by Kristin Neff.

 

Meditations for Mindful Self-Compassion

Guided meditations can help you develop a deeper practice of mindfulness to support your self-compassion journey.

Kristin Neff has developed several, wonderful guided meditations, specifically focusing on mindfulness for self-compassion and awareness development. These include ‘Affectionate Breathing’ (a 21 minute, self-guided meditation) and ‘Soften, Soothe and Allow: Working with emotions in the body’ (a 15 minute guided meditation).

A few other meditation resources that you may find helpful include:

Loving Kindness for Ourselves, by Chris Germer

A 20-minute guided meditation with a focus on developing self-compassion. Germer’s guided meditation also includes written instructions to support the practice.

Guided Meditation for Mindfulness and Self-Compassion, by Linda Hall

This is a guided meditation for relaxation, incorporating mindfulness and breathing techniques, with a focus on increasing self-worth and self-compassion. It is suitable for beginners or more advanced meditators.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4Qg8PSZXak

 

30 Minute, Mindful Compassion Meditation, from Mindspace

This guided meditation takes you through a process of breathing techniques to help transform negative self-judgment and internal criticisms towards more soothing and positive ideas of the self for self-compassion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90L06gYmMxg

 

 

Kristin Neff’s Work on the Topic

Kristin Neff is one of the current leading researchers and academics exploring self-compassion, authenticity and self-concept development. It was during her studies at graduate school that Neff first became interested in Buddhism and self-compassion as a central construct of its teachings.

As a concept, self-compassion had not really been studied empirically previously, and her pioneering research led her to co-found the Mindful Self-Compassion Center with Chris Germer, and write several books on the topic.

Her TEDx talk is a great introduction to her research and findings on the topic of self-compassion:

The Space Between Self-Esteem and Self Compassion: Kristin Neff at TEDxCentennialParkWomen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtZBUSplr4

 

Neff also developed a short questionnaire that can help you test how self-compassionate you currently are (Neff, 2003), and provides starting resources and practices to help you improve. It’s a great resource is you’re looking to get started with a Mindful Self-Compassion practice.

Through her work, Neff established the Mindful Self-Compassion Program with co-founder, Chris Germer. The program seeks to train others as teachers in MSC, so they can help to further spread the practice and encourage others to develop more self-compassion in their lives.

In a randomized, controlled trial, Neff & Germer (2012) found that the program increased not only self-compassion but compassion for others and feelings of satisfaction with life overall. They also found that the participants in the program reported decreased feelings of depression and stress.

The program is delivered through a number of different options including an 8-week in-person course, 2-day intensives, or via online tutorials.

Some of Neff’s most recent work on the topic includes:

  • In a study of 691 undergraduates, those with higher self-compassion based on the Self-Compassion Scale (Neff, 2003) were more likely to engage actively in the classroom, asked more questions, sought out help more frequently and were more likely to engage with their teachers outside of lectures (Long & Neff, 2018). The results provide a strong foundation that self-compassion can be a factor in developing resilience in overcoming perceived negative feedback and improve academic engagement.
  • Another study further explored the role of gender in self-compassion. The study asked participants to self-rate their gender orientation based on qualities of femininity and masculinity. The results consistently found that participants who most strongly identified as masculine, had the highest levels of self-compassion, compared with self-identified feminine participants. Participants who self-identified highest in both masculinity and femininity also reported the highest levels of self-compassion, suggestion socialization plays a strong role in the gender/self-compassion identity (Neff et al, 2018).

 

Chris Germer and Mindful Self-Compassion

Chris Germer, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist who has specialized much of his work research around compassion and mindfulness. He co-developed the Mindful Self-Compassion program alongside Kristin Neff, and co-authored The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook. Germer has released another book titled The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion and is also the co-editor for two publications: Mindfulness and Psychotherapy (Amazon) and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy (Amazon).

As well as writing and editing, Germer helped to found the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion at the Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School, and teaches workshops globally on Mindful Self-Compassion.

In this interview with Linda Graham, Germer further discusses his work with MSC and how to develop a practice:

The Yin Yang of Mindful Self-Compassion

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYQLdJPdU-8

 

Teacher Courses and Training Programs (Incl. MSC Program)

If you’re interested in taking your knowledge of MSC to a new level, teacher training courses in the subject could be the next step for you.

The most prominent program in this area has been developed by Neff and Germer, as part of the Mindful Self-Compassion Center. Based on the overwhelming success of their program, they seek to further educate, support and guide other researchers, psychologists and interested parties in how to teach others to develop Mindful Self-Compassion.

The most common way to participate is through their 8-week long training program, but for those unable to travel for this amount of time or at all they also offer intensive programs (2 to 5-day retreats):

 

Other centers have also developed training to help support individuals wanting to add the concept of Mindful Self-Compassion to their repertoire of teaching skills. Two of the most prominent are:

  • Mindful Self-Compassion: Core Skills Training with the Greater Good Science Center
  • The Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy Certificate Program

 

Alongside their program and teacher training, the MSC Center also offers on-going development courses and community of practice for those who have completed the training and want to continue to develop their skills and knowledge in MSC:

 

Other Workshop and Online Training Options

For those who are unable to attend in person or would prefer to participate in online training, the MSC Center also offers a popular Live Online course, where you can access the full training and resources online, and study at your own pace:

If you’re not ready to make a longer-term commitment or would prefer to familiarize yourself with the content and style of study before signing up for the full training, the Center also offers one-day workshops, and Germer regularly delivers talks, workshops, and presentations across the world:

Additional online training in self-compassion is available from Compassion Based Cognitive Behavioral Training:

 

4 Recommended Workbooks

Workbooks can be a great resource to help you keep track and make notes about your mindfulness practice and Mindful Self-Compassion journey. They’re a great way to reflect back on where you started, and how far you’ve come while providing you with structure and context along the way.

Below are a few of the most popular workbooks available:

 

1. The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook, by Kristin Neff & Christopher Germer

Who better to support you than the creators of the original Mindful Self-Compassion course. This book is a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to develop their self-compassion. From the blurb: ‘The seeds of self-compassion already lie within in you—this workbook will help you uncover this inner resource and transform your life.’

 

2. The Compassionate Mind Workbook, by Elaine Beaumont & Chris Ions

This workbook incorporates Buddhist practice and contemporary Western psychological concepts to provide a step-by-step guide to build better self-compassion, and develop coping strategies to overcome barriers preventing you from leading the life you want.

From the blurb on the back: ‘This workbook is a step-by-step guide, in which the chapters build your understanding of yourself, the skills that give rise to a compassionate mind, and ways to work with whatever difficulties you’re struggling with in life.

 

3. The Self-Compassion Skills Workbook: A 14-Day Plan to Transform Your Relationship with Yourself, by Tim Desmond

In just 30 minutes a day, for fourteen days, this workbook aims to support you to uncover underlying negative beliefs that may be preventing you from engaging fully with better self-compassion.

Using a mixture of exercises, including mindfulness, the workbook promises to help you: ‘regulate and defuse intense emotions, anxiety, and depression; be resilient during life’s challenges; let go of self-criticism and destructive behavior; heal painful experiences, and be more present and compassionate with others.’

 

4. The Self-Compassion Workbook for Teens, by Karen Bluth & Kristin Neff

This workbook is focused more on supporting young minds and teenagers to build a healthy foundation of self-compassion. With fun, tactile exercises, activities, and resources (including mindfulness), it’s an accessible starting point for young people.

From the blurb on the back: ‘Life is imperfect—and so are we. But if you’re ready to move past self-criticism and self-judgment and embrace your unique self, this compassionate guide will light the way.

 

6 Useful Books

Reading books by others is a great way to expand our minds and build our knowledge. A lot of how we feel sits on a broad spectrum of human experience and a good book can also be a positive reminder that you’re not alone.

Below is a selection of popular books that might help remind you just how human you really are, while building your knowledge and understand further around mindfulness and self-compassion:

 

1. The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown

Regular described as ‘motivational and uplifting’ Brown utilizes her research in shame to offer a guide for how to overcome our self-critical dispositions and live our lives with more courage.

Available from Amazon.

 

2. Mindfulness for Beginners, by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Another extraordinarily popular book, from one of the modern founders of contemporary mindfulness as we know it in the Western world. If you’re new to mindfulness, this book is a fantastic resource and enlightening read.

Available from Amazon.

 

3. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions, by Christopher Germer

Available from Amazon.

 

4. Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, by Kristin Neff

These two books from the leading researchers in the areas of self-compassion and Mindful Self-Compassion are the must-haves for your bookshelves if you’re interested in furthering your knowledge and understanding of both topics, and how they can be used together for a greater sense of personal acceptance and fulfillment.

Available from Amazon.

 

5. Mindful Compassion, by Paul Gilbert & Kunzang Choden

Building on the work of Neff and Germer, this book furthers the concept of MSC and the benefits of using mindfulness daily to build more compassion for the self and others.

Available from Amazon.

 

6. The Compassion Book: Teachings for Awakening the Heart, by Pema Chödrön

Chödrön is an American Tibetan Buddhist, and shot to popularity with her spiritual teachings and books advocating for Buddhist practices and concepts in contemporary life. This book contains fifty-nine short teachings for developing better compassion.

Available from Amazon.

 

A Take Home Message

Before I started researching this article, I was unsure what the difference between mindfulness and self-compassion really was. It seemed to me that the two were one and the same thing. Through reading the research, and learning more about the Mindful Self-Compassion program, I’ve come to realize how nuanced both aspects of the concept really are, and how being deliberate in how we use mindfulness for self-compassion can lead to some incredible personal development.

If there’s one thing I’d like you to take away from this article, it’s the distinction between mindfulness and Mindful Self-Compassion, and how developing a targeted practice of mindfulness can support your self-compassion journey. Above all, with all things mindfulness, I think it’s important to always remember and appreciate that whatever we feel and experience is all a part of our individual paths of being human.

Have you tried Mindful Self-Compassion? What kind of self-compassion tips and techniques have helped you to develop in this area? Please feel free to leave any comments below, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

For further reading:

 

  • APA (2012). What Are The Benefits of Mindfulness? Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/education/ce/mindfulness-benefits.pdf.
  • Carson, J. W., Carson, K. M., Gil, K. M., & Baucom, D. H. (2004). Mindfulness-based relationship enhancement. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005789404800285
  • Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: A review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative And Complementary Medicine, 15(5).
  • Garland, E. L., & Howard, M. O. (2013). Mindfulness-oriented recovery enhancement reduces pain attentional bias in chronic pain patients. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics 82(5).
  • Germer, C. (2009). The mindful path to self-compassion: Freeing yourself from destructive thoughts and emotions. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
  • Goldin, P. R., & Gross, J. J. (2010). Effects of mindfulness-­based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder. Emotion, 10(1).
  • Greenberg, L. & Webster, M. C. (1982). Resolving Decisional Conflict by Gestalt Two-Chair Dialogue: Relating Process to Outcome. Retrieved from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.471.5776&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  • Heffernan, M., Griffin, M., McNulty, S., & Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2010). Self-compassion and emotional intelligence in nurses. International Journal of Nursing Practice, 16.
  • Hofmann, S. G., Sawyer, A. T., Witt, A. A., & Oh, D. (2010). The effect of mindfulness-based therapy on anxiety and depression: A meta-analytic review. Journal Of Consulting And Clinical Psychology, 78(2).
  • Kabat-Zinn, J. (1982). An outpatient program in behavioral medicine for chronic pain patients based on the practice of mindfulness meditation: theoretical considerations and preliminary results. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7042457
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About the Author

Elaine Mead, BSc. Dual Honours, is a counselor, passionate educator, writer, and learner. Since completing her degree in psychology, she has been fascinated by the different ways we learn - both socially and academically - and the ways in which we utilize our experiences to become more authentic versions of our selves. She is currently completing her diploma in Cognitive Behavioural Coaching & Mentoring.

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