psychology and meditation

How to be the world’s best soulmate

wildmind meditation news

Nanci Besser, Fulfillment Daily

The Challenge: Everyone wants to find their soulmate, but how can we be that for someone else?The Science: Surprisingly, empathy and kindness toward yourself is the key to being a wonderful partner.
The Solution: Here are 3 steps to becoming AND finding the perfect soulmate.
Everyone wants a soulmate. Yet what does it take to be a perfect partner to that soulmate? A research study shows us the secret to being a wonderful soulmate, and it’s something most of us have never heard of: self-compassion.

Everything comes in 3’s

At this point in your existing or budding relationship you probably know the crucial basics about one another: Human? –Check; Approximate age/height? –Check, check; Occupation? –Check; Do you practice self-compassion in your life? ? -Uh, no…why on Earth would that matter?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

Practicing self-compassion might be a strong indicator of the presence or absence of empathy in an individual. (Block-Lerner et al., 2007; Morgan & Morgan, 2005) Empathy is the ability to see the world through the eyes of another person. Empathy is what we are all seeking from our relationship partner: the space to be who we are without judgment.

The good news: it is never too late to add more self-compassion into your life. If you want to have the ideal, empathic partner, be the ideal, empathic partner first by practicing self-compassion daily.

Here are three secret steps to add self-compassion practices into your everyday life:

Step 1: Look Within

Noted psychologist, Dr. Kristin Neff defines self-compassion as (Neff, 2003)

Looking without resistance at one’s own discomfort, experiencing kindness and caring toward      oneself, applying a gentle, nonjudgmental attitude toward one’s shortcomings, and acknowledging      that one’s experience is part of the human experience (p. 224).

Beginning the journey to self-compassion within our mind shifts our perceptions of the outside world. A great way to start the journey is to journal. Journaling is not a novel concept, but journaling without judgment may be for you. Write about your day, listing your interactions with others as facts without interpretations.

Do not restrict yourself expressing your feelings, but resist criticizing or judging your choices. This is not a “bliss ninny” approach, but be patient with your observations. If we look at an issue or seeming problem with kindness and without denial, it is much easier to see the options for transcending the dilemma.

Step 2: Forgive

The next step is to make an honest inventory of the choices you wish you could do-over. Like the first step, the goal here is not to create an infinite well of guilt. Rather, illuminate any self-judgments, stopping them from festering and accumulating in your mind.

In your journal, list alternate actions for each situation. Then, choose one alternate action that speaks to your heart. Now, tell yourself you did the best you could and forgive yourself for the mistaken choice.

Next, close your eyes and envision the moment before you chose your past action that you wish to change.

Then, take a deep, cleansing breath and insert the alternate action you chose before into your vision, allowing yourself to experience a different outcome based upon your different choice.

Tell yourself that each exhale releases the guilt you felt and each inhale allows you to choose being present. Sit still and allow your mind to quiet and countdown from three to one, and then open your eyes.

Step 3: Extend

Projecting your anger and resentment upon others is an inability to forgive yourself. What we choose not to look upon within us, we often cast out upon others, usually to those closest to us.

After completing step two above, you are ready to share your kindness and forgiveness with others through extension of your time and service. Search your heart and soul for a philanthropic activity or cause that speaks to you.

Or, if time is limited, do your best to smile at everyone your eyes meet for one day. There is always time to be kind and to share the compassion you experience within with others at any moment and at anyplace.

Happily Ever After

Incorporating these three secret steps into your daily life changes your perceptions of the outside world. This is the ideal stage to meet your potential soulmate or to enrich your present relationship with the empathy developed through self-compassion. You will be what you are looking for from another. Combining two self-compassionate/empathic soulmates may be greater than the sum of your individual selves. Figuratively, 1+1 may equal 3. What more could you possibly want?

Resources:

  • Block-Lerner, J., Adair, C., Plumb, J. C., Rhatigan, D. L., & Orsillo, S. M. (2007). The case for mindfulness-based approaches in the cultivation of empathy: Does nonjudgmental, present-moment awareness increase capacity for perspective-taking and empathic concern? Journal of Marital & Family Therapy, 33 (4), 501– 516.
  • Morgan, W. D., & Morgan, S. T. (2005). Cultivating attention and empathy. In Germer, C. K., Siegel, R. D., & Fulton, P. R. (Eds.), Mindfulness and psychotherapy (pp. 73-90). New York: The Guilford Press.
  • Neff, K. D. (2003). The development and validation of a scale to measure self- compassion. Self and Identity, 2, 223-250.

Original article no longer available

Read More

Six ways to start practicing self-compassion — even if you believe you’re undeserving

wildmind meditation news

For many of us being kind to ourselves is hard. It’s hard even when we’re struggling — and need compassion most. Instead, we get mad. We tell ourselves to buck up. We wonder why we’re so weak. We criticize and hurl insults. We withhold our favorite things — telling ourselves that we don’t deserve to participate in enjoyable activities, because after all, we screwed up everything.

But the good news is that we can learn to cultivate self-compassion. Which is vital. Self-compassion helps us to meet life’s challenges in a supportive way, said Amy Finlay-Jones, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist, compassion teacher, and researcher who specializes in self-compassion. In fact, according to research, self-compassion has a measurable effect on our mental health and well-being, she said. (See here and here.)

Self-compassion is “the intentional cultivation of a relationship with oneself that is respectful, kind and compassionate,” said Celedra Gildea, Ph.D, a psychotherapist in Portland, Ore., who leads Mindful Self-Compassion, Compassion Cultivation Training and Mindfulness groups. Below are six ways you can start cultivating self-compassion, even if you’ve been berating yourself for years.

Reduce disparaging times, and up kind moments

Simply notice when you feel most self-critical and aggressive toward yourself, Finlay-Jones said. Maybe it’s when you’re tired or overworked. Maybe it’s when you’re spending too much time on social media. “Whatever it is, see if you can refrain from it a little.”

Also, pay attention to the times you feel nourished and comfortable with yourself, she said. This might be when you’re taking a walk in nature or hanging out with friends or working on a creative project. “Whatever it is, see if you can cultivate a little more of it in your life.”

This can give us more space to be gentle and curious with ourselves, Finlay-Jones said.

Promo for Wildmind's meditation initiative

Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Click here to find out about the many benefits of being a sponsor.

Take a self-compassion break

Gildea suggested trying an exercise created by self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff, which helps us recognize and soothe our suffering. Put your hand on your heart or any place that feels comforting.

Simply say, “This hurts” or “This is suffering.” Next, say something that acknowledges that you’re part of a community of people struggling, such as: “I’m not alone” or “We all struggle in our lives.” Lastly, offer yourself some kindness, such as: “May I be kind to myself,” “May I accept myself as I am,” or “May I be patient.”

Speak tender words — like you would to a child or your child

“Many of us think that we don’t have the capacity or words to give ourselves compassion,” Gildea said. She shared a powerful story that reveals we do. Gildea was volunteering at a women’s abuse shelter, trying to teach a group of women the self-compassion break. Because of all the pain they’d endured, they couldn’t find any words of compassion for themselves.

Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Another volunteer brought in a baby who was crying. The mom took her baby into her arms and started whispering loving words, like: “Don’t you worry sweet one, we are going to be OK. I’m right here and no one is going to hurt you anymore.” She was able to effortlessly shower her child with compassion.

“Deeply touched, we all put our hands on [our] hearts and spoke the same words of compassion, imagining our little child sitting next to our adult selves safely in our hearts,” Gildea said. “They had found the key.” You can try the same.

Try this loving meditation

Another way to start practicing self-compassion is by bringing to mind a loved one and noticing the feelings of love and warmth that tend to arise, Finlay-Jones said. “Step-by-step, we become more skillful at mobilizing this capacity, so that after a time, we are more able to include ourselves in the circle of compassion.” She created this beautiful meditation for readers to try.

Pay attention to how you’re practicing

“Self-compassion is not about self-improvement,” Finlay-Jones said. She stressed the importance of paying attention to how you’re practicing self-compassion. Do you have an attitude of impatience or harshness? Are you being considerate and comforting?

Many of her clients share long lists of self-care practices they’ve tried. These lists might include everything from yoga to psychotherapy to meditation to running. Yet, they feel anything but cared for. Instead, they feel exhausted, overwhelmed, anxious or depressed, Finlay-Jones said. “This is often because they are demanding and aggressive with themselves in the process — treating themselves as though they are a problem to be fixed, and self-care is the solution.”

To be truly self-compassionate, she noted, it’s important to work on acknowledging that we are all acceptable exactly as we are.

Delve into your needs and values

Self-compassion goes deeper than supporting ourselves in the moment. According to Finlay-Jones, it “involves understanding what our deeper needs and values are, and aligning our behavior accordingly.” For instance, one deeper need all of us have is connection. As she writes in this piece, you might meet this need by spending time with friends, playing with your pet, listening to music, and helping others.

You might be thinking, but what if I don’t deserve self-compassion? What if I don’t feel worthy or loveable or deserving of kindness?

As Finlay-Jones said, start practicing anyway. “[S]elf-compassion is so important precisely because we don’t feel worthy, or deserving, or loveable. There is, therefore, no better time to start.”

Original article no longer available

 

Read More

The surprising benefits of compassion meditation

wildmind meditation news

Stacey Colino, USNews: In recent years, mindfulness meditation has garnered loads of attention for its beneficial effects on the body and mind. Now, there’s a new star on the block: compassion meditation, a less well-known but increasingly popular contemplative practice that aims to strengthen feelings of compassion and empathy toward different people (both those you care about and those who are difficult).

“It’s deeply rooted in Buddhist philosophy, which has taught us a lot about how people are connected and what is the purpose of our existence,” explains Stefan G. Hofmann, a professor of psychology in the department of psychological and brain sciences at Boston University. “Compassion is the fundamental idea at the root of Buddhist philosophy – if life is suffering and we can’t avoid it, we need to embrace it and be compassionate toward the suffering of others. It brings us closer to others.”

See also:

More than just a feel-good practice, compassion meditation leads to improved mood, more altruistic behavior, less anger, reduced stress and decreased maladaptive mind wandering, according to recent research. A 2013 study at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle found that practicing loving-kindness meditation (a form of compassion meditation) for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, as well as anger and depression among veterans with PTSD. A 2005 study from Duke University Medical Center found that practicing loving-kindness meditation for eight weeks reduced pain and psychological distress among patients with chronic low back pain. And a 2015 study from Brazil found that practicing yoga along with compassion meditation three times a week for eight weeks improved quality of life, vitality, attention and self-compassion among family caregivers of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. …

Read the original article »

Promo for Wildmind's meditation initiative

Wildmind is a Community-Supported Meditation Initiative. Click here to find out about the many benefits of being a sponsor.

Read More

Incorporating meditation training into an outpatient psychiatry practice

Greg Sazima, Psychiatric Times: You can’t open a newspaper or browse a health website these days without seeing the latest glowing testimonial to the benefits of meditation training. Yet only a small subset of psychiatrists actually practice meditation, and fewer still incorporate awareness training into their tool kit in treating their patients. It’s not as if there has been an absence of attention to meditation in the mental health community. The works of Drs Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mark Epstein, Marsha Linehan, and others as well as more recent research have reinforced meditation’s ameliorative effect on …

Read the original article »

Read More

Intensive meditation training seems to enhance people’s compassion

Alex Fradera, BPS Research Digest: Psychological research into meditation has overwhelmingly focused on its cognitive consequences, considering the practice as a kind of training for attention and behaviour control, together with stress alleviation. But contemplation traditions make far wider claims for meditation, such as that it helps practitioners cultivate concern for the welfare of others. A new study in the journal Emotion supports this perspective, using a rigorous measure of emotional response to show signs of enhanced compassion following intensive, long-term meditation.

Erika Rosenberg at the University of California, Davis and her …

Read the original article »

Read More

Meditation, mindfulness may affect way your genes behave

Ben Locwin, Genetic Literacy Project: In the world of psychotherapy and biopsychology, mindfulness has experienced a tremendous amount of attention recently — mostly because in many of the challenges of the mind it is put up against, mindfulness has fared very well — performing as well as (or better than) drug therapies in some cases.

Mindfulness is endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA) as a preventive therapy for cardiovascular disease and they also recommend mindfulness as a strategy for overeating.

However, for physicians and patients to fully unlock …

Read the original article »

Read More

Mindfulness: the craze sweeping through schools is now at a university near you

Harriet Swain, The Guardian: Slowly take a raisin and examine every wrinkle and fold of its surface. Feel its texture with your fingers. Inhale its scent. Squeeze it and hear how it sounds. Raise it to your lips, place it in your mouth, explore it with your tongue. Prepare to chew. As you bite into it, notice the bursts of taste and how these change, and be aware of when you feel ready to swallow. Finally, feel the raisin travel into your body.

This is a common introductory exercise in mindfulness – a practice derived from Buddhist meditation that involves paying attention to the …

Read More

Mindfulness meditation may improve memory for teens

wildmind meditation newsKathryn Doyle, Reuters: Adolescents assigned to a mindfulness meditation program appeared to have improvements in memory in a recent study.

“These results are consistent with a growing body of research in adults that has found mindfulness meditation to be a helpful tool for enhancing working memory capacity,” said Kristen E. Jastrowski Mano of the psychology department at the University of Cincinnati, who coauthored the new study.

The researchers randomly divided 198 public middle school students into three groups: mindfulness meditation, hatha yoga or a waitlist. Most students were female, ages 12 to 15, and from low-income households that qualified for reduced-cost lunch.

Before the study began and …

Read the original article »

Read More

Taking the self out of self-compassion

man looking at universe

One of the most interesting studies I’ve ever seen was by James Pennebaker, a University of Texas psychology professor, and Shannon Wiltsey Stirman, who is now associate professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine.

Poets are particularly prone to taking their own lives, and Pennebaker and Stirman were interested to see if the writings of poets who had killed themselves contained linguistic clues that could have predicted their fate. They matched together, by age, era, nationality, educational background, and sex, poets who had and had not killed themselves, and ran their works through a computer program that looked for patterns in the language they used.

What they found was that the poets who had killed themselves were far more self-referential than those who hadn’t. Right from the beginning, those who ended up committing suicide used the words “I,” “me,” and “my” in their writings far more often than those who died naturally or are still alive. Also, the suicidal poets became increasingly self-referential as time passed, using first person singular pronouns more and more often, right up until they took their own lives.

Also see:

Poets who didn’t kill themselves, on the other hand, used those words more rarely, and instead referred more often to “we,” “us,” and “ours”—words that embed a sense of connection. And those words were used more and more often over the course of their lives.

Part of our conditioning tells us that if we want to be happy we need to focus on “number one.” And yet, as the Harry Nilsson song says, “One is the loneliest number.” Connecting with others, and thus reducing our focus on ourselves, is an important form of emotional buffering, helping us to deal with life’s ups and downs, and also providing the rich and nourishing experience of loving and being loved. Those who disconnect and withdraw into themselves experience greater suffering, to the extent that life can become unbearable.

So what does this tell us about self-compassion? After all, isn’t the word “self” right there in the name? Does this mean that focusing on ourselves might actually make us less happy?
In self-compassion, one part of us sends compassion to a suffering part of ourselves, not because the suffering part of us is a part of us, but simply because compassion is the appropriate response to pain. It doesn’t actually matter whether the suffering is inside us or outside us, part of us or not part of us—the compassionate part of us has compassion for suffering because that’s what suffering needs.

In a way there’s no such thing as “self-compassion.” There’s just “compassion.” There’s just the desire to care for anything that’s suffering, and to remove the suffering if possible, with no regard to whether it’s “our” suffering or not. By cultivating compassion for suffering within ourselves, we automatically become more compassionate toward others, and thus become more connected to them, and thus become happier. With self-compassion we don’t see ourselves as different from others because of our suffering, but see ourselves as connected to others because we all suffer.

Read More

Wash the dishes and cleanse the mind?

wildmind meditation newsAnn Lukits, Wall Street Journal: Washing the dishes may be a convenient detox for overwrought minds, a study in the journal Mindfulness suggests. The study found that washing dishes mindfully—focusing on the smell of the soap, and the shape and feel of the dishes, for example—significantly reduced nervousness and increased mental stimulation in dishwashers compared with a control group.

Mindful dishwashing also heightened the sense of time pleasurably slowing down. Studies have associated altered time perception with greater psychological well-being, the researchers said.

Mindfulness refers both to a peaceful cognitive state and a popular form of therapeutic meditation that calms the mind …

Read the original article »

Read More
Menu