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Hundreds of studies are pointing to kindness and self-compassion as two of the most powerful resources for enhancing emotional well-being. And yet, all too often we neglect to strengthen and use our innate ability to practice them when we’re struggling. How can we become more kind and compassionate to ourselves?

I looked up the definition of kindness and compassion and found these descriptions.
I then added, based on my current exploration of Self Compassion, my own definition.

• Kindness: Being selfless, caring, compassionate, and unconditionally kind.
(Not sure why the same word is used in the definition?? The key word seems to be unconditionally.)
• Compassion: To recognize the suffering of others and then take action to help.
• Self-Compassion: First recognize your own suffering or discomfort. Then practice remembering who you truly are. And finally, forgive yourself for the times you were less than that.

My personal exploration of self-compassion began through discovering the work of Dr. Kristin Neff and Edward Mannix, creator of the Compassion Key. It has been a deep dive into the process of recognizing core patterns and beliefs that no longer serve my well being. Both Neff and Mannix offer practices for developing new habits and releasing outdated behaviors. It is mind-blowing how powerful and just how negative our self talk and unconscious conditioning can often be. Thankfully there are moments of breakthrough when you realize just how absurd the brainwashing and false beliefs are and it allows for a deep release!

You can start is with Neff’s Self-Compassion Test to see how loving and kind you really are to yourself!

Dr. Kristin Neff is an associate professor in the University of Texas at Austin’s department of educational psychology. She received her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, studying moral development. Neff has co-authored multiple books and programs with co-developer Chris Germer PhD.

Since 2010, Neff and Germer have tested and continually refined strategies to help people develop self-compassion as a habit—a natural strength that comes to our aid whenever we need it. Extremely positive results have been found in their research studies and in real life stories.

While doing her post-doctoral work she decided to conduct research on self-compassion – a central construct in Buddhist psychology and one that had not yet been examined empirically. Kristin is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, creating a scale to measure the construct almost 20 years ago. She has been recognized as one of the world’s most influential research psychologists.

In addition to writing numerous academic articles and book chapters on the topic, she is author of
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, and her latest Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power and Thrive.

Mannix a long time spiritual seeker, management consultant and social entrepreneur, has been on a conscious path of personal and spiritual development for over twenty years. He has practiced Vipassana meditation in a monastery in Burma, traveled to Nepal to receive teachings and transmissions from Tibetan Rinpoches, and worked with hidden masters from a number of traditions and geographies, spanning Asia, Europe and the United States.

Throughout his journey, Mannix has consistently focused on a form of practical spirituality – integrating his spiritual pursuits into ordinary life, not leaving worldly endeavors behind, but instead using them as a vehicle to go deeper into awakening.

Here are some Self-Compassion Guidelines and books by Mannix:
Reinventing Truth: A New Map of the Spiritual Path and Reality As It Is, and Self-compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself

• Cultivate loving-kindness toward yourself
• Face your pain with courage and acceptance
Understand the science of self-compassion
• Motivate yourself with compassion rather than criticism
• Bring your core values into fulfilling actions
• Be resilient when faced with life’s difficulties
• Care for others without losing yourself
• Feel more grateful and fulfilled every day

In these times of intense global transformation it is critical to take time to simply be with yourself in a place of deep silence and to choose activities that support your natural state of innocence. This is the place of being in your child-like state of awe and wonder for the beauty that surrounds us every moment of every day. And another way of accessing innocence is to PLAY! Give your brain a break and open your heart more. Engage in acts of self-compassion.

From my experience of teaching yoga for 25 years, I am reminded that the point of power is in the pause. That space between the in-breath and the out-breath, between the chaos and the flow, the space that holds the magic and the mystery of life. Pausing from the belief that work and perfectionism are gained only by keeping the petal to the metal leads to dis-ease.

Take it from Nina Hart, writer, author and teacher of Writing From the Top of Your Head, PLAY can also help us overcome burnout, anxiety, depression. (Anybody here relate to this conundrum?) Or take it from the experts; Life must be lived as play –Plato  or  Play is the highest form of research –Einstein

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