Joyce Marter, LCPC, PsychCentral: Large and rapidly moving, ominous clouds of negativity roll into my mind, infuse my thoughts and deeply darken my mood. As I exhale, I feel the irritability fume from my nostrils like fiery smoke from a dragon’s. As I bristle with defensiveness and hostility, I feel the energetic spikes of anger jet from my spine, creating a non-verbal warning to others to steer clear. My eyes narrow and shoot lasers of fury. My tongue sharpens and my words become cutting and biting. As waves of anger ripple through my body, my energy and power grows. My walk becomes a …
Not many people like their bodies. The typical reaction from looking at oneself naked in the mirror lies somewhere on a spectrum from mild disappointment to outright revulsion, with a bit of disbelief thrown in (how did I get so old? where did those wrinkles come from? where’s my hair gone?)
I had a little epiphany the other day, though. I’d been talking with my girlfriend, who I adore. She’s beautiful. Really beautiful. And she’s also afflicted by doubts about her attractiveness. So when we were talking she was going over some of the things she didn’t like about her appearance (wrinkles, etc) and I’m, like, “I don’t care. I love those things about you. … Read more »
Last month I was honored to be a guest of Leo Babauta of Zen Habits, who had asked me to talk about and to answer questions on self-compassion.
It was supposed to be a video, but unfortunately my camera decided to stop talking to my computer just as the webinar began. But Leo kindly send me the audio of the conversation, and I invite you to listen to it below.
I discuss the practice of self-compassion in terms of a very useful Buddhist teaching extracted from the 12 nidanas (links) that illustrate dependent origination, or paticca-samuppada. These are (in a slightly adapted form):
I was talking to a Buddhist friend recently who’s a wonderful writer. She creates amazing blog posts that usually start off deeply personal but go on to teach important and universal lessons about life. I have a lot to learn from her about combining the personal and the instructional, and in many ways I regard her as the better writer. The thing is, she told me she hasn’t been able to write for two years now, because she’s a perfectionist.
And that’s the problem with perfectionism. Perfectionism makes us anything but perfect, because, for one thing, it makes it harder for us to create. Perfectionism is like teaching an animal to do a trick by … Read more »
I remember one day, thirty years ago, when I was living in Glasgow, Scotland, and was depressed. I can’t remember what I was feeling down about, exactly, although it definitely wasn’t a clinical depression. There were just things in my life that weren’t going well, and I was taking things too seriously. But there I was, in a state of self-pity, heading home on the bus. It was a rainy night, and being on a bus in Glasgow when it’s dark and raining, and the windows are running with condensation, is not a cheery experience. I guess I spent much of the bus-ride mulling over my woes and talking myself deeper into a state of … Read more »
Someone recently wrote to tell me that she suffers extreme embarrassment when meditating with other people, because her IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) causes a lot of intestinal gurgling. She becomes self-conscious about these noises, finds that the anxiety about them dominates her meditations, and has been so upset at times that she’s left the meditation room in tears. Also, her anxiety around making noise actually causes her condition to get worse.
I can appreciate her anxiety. I think we’ve all had times when we’ve been self-conscious about bodily noises (gas, swallowing, coughing, etc.), but to have it be more than an occasional thing must be very hard indeed.
If you’re affected by similar problems, I’d … Read more »
Leah Burrows, BrandeisNow: Brandeis researchers explore the relationship between self-compassion and health.
We all have stress in our lives, whether it’s a daily commute, workplace pressures or relationship troubles. But how we deal with that stress could impact our health and longevity.
In a recently published paper in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, Brandeis University researchers report they found a connection between a self-compassionate attitude and lower levels of stress-induced inflammation. The discovery could lead to new techniques to lower stress and improve health.
The paper was authored by psychology professor Nicolas Rohleder, with postdoctoral fellows Juliana Breines and Myriam Thoma, and graduate students Danielle Gianferante, Luke Hanlin and Xuejie Chen.
It’s long known that psychological … Read more »
At a weekend workshop I led, one of the participants, Marian, shared her story about the shame and guilt that had tortured her. Marian’s daughter Christy, in recovery for alcoholism, had asked her mother to join her in therapy. As their sessions unfolded, Christy revealed that she’d been sexually abused throughout her teen years by her stepfather, Marian’s second husband.
The words and revelations Marian heard that day pierced her heart. “You just slept through my whole adolescence!” her daughter had shouted. “I was being violated and had nowhere to turn! No one was there to take care of me!” Christy’s face was red; her hands clenched tight. “I was afraid to tell you then, … Read more »
Hooria Jazaieri, Greater Good Science Center: We know that face-to-face mindfulness courses can reduce stress. But can people reap the same benefits with an online program?
Although many critics blame the Internet (and technology more generally) for shrinking our attention spans and upping the amount of stress in our lives, a recent study suggests it can also be used to help us successfully manage stress.
The study, published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, examined the effectiveness of an eight-week, Internet-based program teaching mindfulness, the moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, emotions, and environment.
Although prior research suggests mindfulness-based programs can help people combat …
Self-compassion is at the heart of my teaching these days.
The retreat fees include food and accommodation, and they’re on a sliding scale.
… Read more »
Most us us have the habit of being unkind to ourselves. We talk unkindly to ourselves and often we sacrifice our own well-being in order to “get things done.”
On this weekend retreat, Bodhipaksa will introduce a step-by-step guide to self-compassion, so that we can learn to be less hard on