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How (and WHY) to be Self-Compassionate - 2 Wings of a Bird (Video)

Mindfulness and Compassion




Did you know that mindfulness has a best mate and its best mate is compassion?  Maybe the cheesiest way I've ever opened a video, but in all seriousness, for thousands of years mindfulness and compassion have been described as two wings of the same bird. You see, in those moments when we feel genuine compassion, either for ourselves or for others, we're naturally in a very mindful state.


And then mindfulness itself is a state of being that naturally leads to a greater sense of compassion. So we could say the decision to practice and learn what mindfulness is all about is also a decision to make compassion a much more prominent feature in your life.  But what is it about these two qualities of the heart and the mind that make them so joined at the hip?


Why does mindfulness lead to compassion? And when it does, what are we actually being compassionate about? Well, in a nutshell, the more we practice mindfulness, the more we begin to see with increasing clarity the behind the scenes mechanics of exactly how this experience of being a human actually works.


And because of that clarity, we can begin to appreciate that as joyful as life can be, there are also many aspects of the human condition that are just difficult to be with. We have uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. We have discomfort in the body, physical pain. We have things that change when we don't want them to change.


Things are always changing whether we want them to or not.  Uh, we have our deep conditioning that causes us to  grasp at and crave for things that we want when sometimes we either don't or can't have those things. And it also causes us to reject and resist the unwanted, unpleasant, but inevitable aspects of our lives.


The list goes on and it's a long list, but with mindfulness we learn that none of this is happening because of who we are as individual people. It's happening because it's a natural consequence of being born into a human body with a human mind. Mindfulness connects us to and teaches us about our common humanity.


Sometimes, life can be bloody hard. And no one's to blame for that. It's the same for all of us.  But that's where compassion comes in.  Imagine that someone you know and that you care about deeply was to experience some terrible misfortune that was in no way their fault. What would your natural response to that be?


What would you feel for them and what would you want to do?  Now the chances are you probably feel really empathetic and want to do whatever you could do to help. Now that powerful combo of empathy and the desire to help is compassion, and mindfulness helps us to cultivate that same kind of caring response for ourselves. By letting go of our judgments and accepting things as they are in the moment and being willing to be with whatever happens to be present in our experience, and also by recognizing that impersonal nature of everything that's happening, then self kindness and compassionate action seems to bubble up as a response that seems to make the most amount of sense.


Because why wouldn't we be kind to ourselves when we can see so clearly what's actually happening? And why wouldn't we want to extend that same kind of compassion to others when we can clearly see that it's the same for them as well? Now the great news is that you don't have to wait until you've been meditating for so long that compassion has just become your automatic default way of dealing with stress and struggle.


You can start building that muscle of compassion right away by taking it on as something to practice and to be intentional about. So whenever you notice that you're feeling stressed, or sad, or frustrated, or in pain, or anything else that's difficult to be with, rather than diving straight into those usual judgments, and criticisms, and stories, or justifications,  see if you can take a moment to simply recognize what's happening as yet another example of what all humans are subject to experiencing from time to time.


You can acknowledge that it's a difficult moment and that it's hard, but then ask yourself the question, "What's the most  kind and helpful thing that I can do to support myself in this moment?" No doubt if you're not used to responding in this way it's gonna feel strange. And that's okay. It's normal.


Things always feel strange when we're just starting out. But as long as you keep practicing you'll be doing yourself a huge service because whatever we practice gets stronger.

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