‘Talk to yourself as you would someone you love.’
Today I want to write about how to nourish self-compassion.
Last week I visited Cabo de Gata. It is one of Spain’s most beautiful natural parks.
It has been genuinely energising and refreshing to feel the sea’s embrace, absorb the sound of the waves and allow myself to float in the ocean. I remember a quote by Isak Dinesen saying: ‘The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.’ Oh well, I felt like being in the amniotic liquid of the Earth!
I needed a break, and it has been great to be off-screen for a few days.
A few months ago I enrolled in the Somatic Stress Release Practitioner Training with Dr Scott Lyon and The Embody Lab.
I have been diving deep into nervous system regulation, trauma, stress response, and how to use movement, sound, and embodiment practices to enhance overall well-being and resilience.
I will share here below a simple exercise that may enhance your journey into self-compassion. It is an invitation to trust your experience, to be more present with life’s ebbs and flows and grow a capacity to respond versus react to challenges.
Many of us know, sadly, very well the harshness of the inner critic’s voice. Its sound can become paralysing or lead to procrastination and ill health. Long term, these patterns can be profoundly detrimental and drain our vitality.
Sometimes we develop compulsive and addictive behaviours to repress the buried belief that we are not good enough.
I think that now, more than ever, we need to grow practices to nourish self-compassion. This will also positively affect our relationship with our work, family and creativity.
Especially when we enter midlife, we need to reclaim our life force so that we can do the damn good work and embody the power of nature that we are! We must love fiercely ourselves and all the disowned, forgotten and buried bits and land more fully into our bodies. When we have gaps in our body-awareness and don’t fully inhabit ourselves, that will translate into a poorer capacity for expression in our life.
So, please make time and space to be undisturbed, find a comfortable position, and welcome your curiosity and imagination!
There are three simple steps to follow in the following exercise.
Step number one.
I’m gonna invite you to remember something from perhaps today or the last few days, something that you feel like, ‘Ah, I did that. I allowed myself to be more into a relationship with something I otherwise did not.’
Just stay with that.
And as you recognise that, I’m gonna ask and invite you to absorb that recognition, like sipping it in it. And let your whole body drink it, receive it and fill it with that acknowledgement.
Give permission to every part of yourself to bathe in that acknowledgement and that capacity.
After you take that in, you can rest a bit. If you wish, you can start to pay attention to what you noticed, maybe a sense of your body growing or expanding. Perhaps you sense a softening, an opening, a widening, a deepening of the breath. Some might describe a pulse or a gentle inner vibration. It can be subtle. It is as if there’s just more capacity in the system. And if not, that’s also okay.
It is all about growing a deeper relationship, intimacy and engagement with yourself, your senses and inner sensations through the lenses of self-awareness.
It is a simple invitation to recognise a sensation, a physiological or body response and what emerges from true self-validation from self-acknowledgement.
It can be a subtle process at first until it is possible to recognise it.
It is about slowing down and listening.
It is about taking the time to absorb the recognition of the strength and already existing capacity within you.
Step number two.
As an extension of what you already did, I invite you to focus more consciously on self-compassion.
So with that in mind, I’m gonna ask you to place your hands somewhere that feels right on your body.
Give yourself permission, if you wish, to receive a touch that feels compassionate, that welcomes where you are, what you are, and what’s happening in you now.
A hand on a place that acknowledges you.
Just a hand that recognises you. And perhaps with that compassionate touch, there might be some gracious words, some sweet talk like, ‘You got this; you’re doing the best you can.’
Stay as much as you can with it and follow what happens in the process, and find whatever sweet talk feels like it’s needed for you right now. And with that gentle touch and those sweet, compassionate words to yourself, perhaps see just how much you can absorb their warmth and quality.
Allow yourself to soak in those words as far as it feels appropriate right now. See what happens if you invite your whole body to absorb and take in that sweet talk. Perhaps you also sense the heat in your hands, allowing that to circulate in your tissue, cells, muscles, organs, limbs, and tendons.
What would happen if that touch’s quality and words could spread to your whole body?
Step number three.
To conclude this practice, I invite you to ask yourself:
What in me wants to be acknowledged today?
Drop that question as a pebble in the pond.
What wants to emerge?
What wants to be held in the light of self-compassion?
After that, when you are ready, I invite you to shift your weight from side to side, moving softly. Just notice which simple movement wants to rise from inside of you. Take some time to find a gesture or rock your body.
And if you wish, I also ask you to do some automatic writing without censoring yourself and see what comes up!
Finally, if it feels right, you can bring this to a conclusion, for now, knowing that you can always come back to this practice every time you need it.
This journey has been an exploration to cultivate a beautiful self-compassion practice that includes your whole body. This way, you can learn to inhabit yourself more fully and grow the capacity to respond to challenges and dance more with life!
Please take a moment to acknowledge what you just did and what is the most important thing you learnt about yourself today.
‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’
Sometimes when working with someone, I slow down after a change, integration or metabolisation process. I invite the person to consciously register what is happening in their system. Consequently, they can receive their sense of strength, capacity, and ability to have processed something. They learn that they have been present with what may be perceived as challenging or negative. Perhaps something previously was not ‘registered’, or it was numb.
In this way, they are also literally creating new neural pathways. It is essential to give attention also to things that look insignificant and avoid being on an automatic pilot.
I may mirror something back to them and say, for example, that I noticed how after we had this session, they were able to be with the excitement.
I wonder if you can notice your ability to be with your excitement when you register a sense of expansion inside yourself, a possibility, visceral information, an inner knowing.
It’s then the absorption of that, the felt sense, the deep sense, knowing of it from the inside out that is like saying, ‘Oh, I already have more capacity than I previously had.’
And then you walk into the following situations in your life with that inner sense of expansion or capacity, with all these little subtle primal things that happen in your body. They’re not easy to describe. And they’re not always instant. They are not easy to explain because we use language for something primal and somewhat preverbal.
The first time we try something out. But suppose we have this framework of understanding what might be a possibility. In that case, we can start to attune our attention to it.
So, dearest one, please, slow down and listen…I invite you to be patient with yourself, appreciate the small steps, and acknowledge the already existing strength inside of you so you can nurture greater self-compassion!
Thank you for taking this journey with me!
Please give yourself a good pat on your shoulder; you did it!
If by any chance anything emerges that is too uncomfortable or too much, or if you feel that you can’t stay with it, I invite you to pause. Please do something else and bring your attention to something soothing and comfortable. Should you need it, you can read here my article about how to calm anxiety.
Feel free to contact me if you have questions or let me know how this lands and resonates!
If you have ideas or requests for content, feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org; I love to hear from my readers!