This morning I walked past a small blackbird, contorted in pain and turning in small desperate circles on the pavement. A part of me wanted to pretend I hadn’t seen it, but I made myself stop, lean towards the feathered creature and work out the options for helping. I did what needed to be done. It was ghastly, but I'm still glad I stopped. Before this pandemic began, way back when the world seemed like a different place, many of us were perhaps more easily doing our version of walking past the suffering bird. If we looked away, perhaps we didn't have to see. Along came Covid and the presence of suffering all around us has become unavoidable for anyone who has their eyes open. No country has been spared. Alongside many organisations, the US-based Centre for Mindful Self-Compassion (www.centerformsc.org) stepped up and began offering free online meditation circles for anyone in the world who wished to join. We'd love you to join us. Click below to read more and to find the link to join up.read more
Self-compassion will be mission critical for the weeks ahead – because if we don’t take care of ourselves, we won’t last the distance, and it’s going to be a marathon not a sprint. That means treating ourselves like we would treat someone we love, particularly when we find ourselves struggling or feeling overwhelmed. The phrase “we are in this together” means we ALL matter. One way to practise is to take a ‘self-compassion break.’ Here’s my variation for the current Kiwi Lock Down. Do this whenever you feel like you are struggling. Hopefully in taking care of yourself in this way, you will have more love and patience in the metaphorical tank to give to others.read more
A few weeks ago, just before New Year, I spent an hour or so lost in a big sea, swept several kilometres from shore, holding tightly to my paddle board. I felt very small, very fragile, riding increasingly large ocean swells. A decision to test my new board without checking the conditions found me caught in an escalation of off-shore wind and currents – and in trouble. Eventually I got rescued by the local surf life saving crew in an IRB responding to calls from people who had seen the wind blow up and take me away. I lived to tell the tale. And I sure won’t be going paddle boarding in conditions like that any time soon. So, why am I telling you this? Other than an opportunity for a shout out to the local surf life savers (thanks guys, you’re awesome) what was interesting to me was the realisation that I wasn’t panicked, and I think that’s hands down thanks to my meditation practise ... click below to read more.read more
Often in Mindful Self-Compassion training (MSC) we are called to get out of heads and into our bodies, to notice when we are caught up in thinking and to drop into feelings; in other words to feel what’s feel-able. When we tune into our bodies, we access what is true, what is present. Our emotions, be they subtle whispers or powerful floods of energy, never lie, they are never wrong, even if they are difficult or hard to bear. They have a purpose and a process, sometimes fleeting, sometimes long-lingering. Leaning in to our embodied experience, being open to that exquisite information source and being guided by its wisdom is a powerful practise that truly serves us as individuals and as practitioners and teachers of mindful self-compassion.
This summer, for the first time in what feels like way too long, I have spent day after day just with myself and my beloved. Real conversations have unfolded. We have had time and space, and felt expansive and safe enough to say things that needed saying, and loving enough to hear them with an open heart. We have learned wonderful new things about each other after all these years together. We’ve had real fun. We noticed how when days slow right down, they become curiously full. Turns out there is a lot going on when we unbusy ourselves. ... click below to read more.
My body hurts. Whispers of new pain have slowly surfaced over the last ten months.Aches and twangs in my neck, tingling in my shoulders, and an unusual kind of twisting in my spine that has affected my hips. Yet, of course I am in pain; my son has been sick this past year, and I’m his mum. It seems my body has quietly been soaking up the trauma and sadness, burying it inside, kindly allowing my mind the space it needed to get on with getting on. And there has been a lot to get on with. Hospital stays, doctors meetings, multiple surgeries. Keeping vigil. Witnessing. Helping my brave boy shoulder some of the shock of a surprise diagnosis and its consequences. Trying to make sense of a world when a young, fit, gorgeous man can have his life turned upside down out of nowhere. Carrying on with life. Having him living back at home. No time for tears.
Self-compassion was a kind of personal epiphany. I discovered first hand that being continually tough on myself was not a sustainable way to live, and that it is really only with kindness and compassion for ourselves and others that we can truly flourish AND also achieve what we want to in our life. Curiously, it is the fear that if we were to treat ourselves kindly we would lose our edge or become complacent that often prevents people practicing self-kindness. Turns out it’s the opposite that’s true, and that was a revelation that inspired my own research using self-compassion as an intervention for people with diabetes. Our hypothesis was that people who were taught self-compassion may be motivated to look after themselves better, and that might be reflected in better mental and physical health. I was taught to practice and teach self-compassion by Dr Kristen Neff (www. Self-compassion.org). When I started sharing these practises with other people, I was amazed at the difference it made in their lives as well.
Everyone feels anxious from time to time. It’s how our brain detects ‘threats’ to our physical or emotional safety and is therefore important for our survival. For some of us, though, what may once have been innocent, garden-variety anxiety metamorphises into a terrifyingly random experience of panic and disorder that strikes at will, and can feel akin to dying. But you can do something about it. It starts by turning to FACE it....
One of the most common barriers to self-compassion seems to be the idea that it's, well, just a weeny bit woosy. That offfering yourself kindness might be ok if you live in a bubble but for those of us in the real world, it just not really an option.
Ever noticed that little voice in your head that can be really, really mean to you? That's your self-critic, a dastardly little fella that may have been running the show for your whole life, often without you even knowing it.
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