If you’re watching this video or reading this post, you probably already know about mindfulness, the practice of being aware, in the present moment, without judgment. I’m not going to go into the hows of mindfulness so we can focus on busting a myth about it.
I hear from a lot of people that having even a five minute mindfulness practice — or any kind of meditation practice — is too hard because they don’t like to sit and listen to their minds go wild, that that is hard to watch.
But, that’s the point, right? How can we support ourselves day to day if we don’t know what’s swimming around in our head all the time, guiding our behavior when we’re not looking?
If we break it down, it’s not hard to sit and listen to that chatter; most of us can do that. The hard part is having compassion for ourselves and what we carry around with us all the time–those thoughts and emotions that float through our awareness in that five minute practice! That is the non-judgment piece of mindfulness: compassion.
So how do we stop judging ourselves? We are all so good at it! Most of us are experts at finding what’s wrong with everything about ourselves. Learning how to judge ourselves less and display more self-compassion is a practice in itself.
First we have to be aware that we are judging ourselves. A mindfulness practice is great to help us be aware of that. We sit and notice what thoughts float by, then we notice how quickly we jump in with a judgment about that thought. When we can gently observe the judgment, we let it dissipate instead of adding thought power to it.
In our mindfulness practice, we know that we are to notice even the judgment and let it pass, gently bringing our attention back to our anchor: image, breath, word, mantra, sound, etc.
But if you find that you frequently gt caught up in a negative space of judging yourself throughout the day, you might need a little extra backup for yourself more often as you shift from that judging mindset to a more compassionate one.
When you catch yourself in negative self-talk — putting yourself down, criticizing yourself, and so forth — notice that it’s happening, take a belly breath, and ask yourself, “If I had compassion for myself right now, how would this look?”
Most of the time, even just the fantasy of being gentle and kind to yourself feels so much more relaxed and peaceful than a self-judgmental head space.
The simple question, “ If I had compassion for myself, how would this look?” allows us — our real, solid Selves — to take back a little bit of control from the swirling brain commotion that is happening in that moment.
As you continue or recommence your mindfulness or other meditation practice, remember that compassion is the key for gently and efficiently retraining your mind to be more present, aware and non-judgmental throughout the day.
Thanks for watching!