December 17, 2019 Blog No Comments

Do you have a mindfulness and compassion practice? It’s interesting to note that these two things have become linked in exercises and are being used to increase our ability to cope. Now is a great time to bring these skills into play.

Mindfulness and compassion are practices that can be easily learned. While mindfulness is included in Buddhism and Christian centering prayer traditions, it is not a spiritual practice. It’s about getting quiet, noticing, silencing the inner critic, having acceptance and being in the present. Likewise, anyone who wants to improve their self-esteem will find that learning to increase compassion works to soften judgement toward yourself and others. Together they become powerful antidotes to handling stress.

With holidays full upon us, it’s a good time to put these skills into practice. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned from my own experience and the workshop with Dr. Ron Siegel*.

QUIET ALONE TIME – MEDITATION – HELPS US BE PRESENT

At the core of mindfulness is learning to meditate and be present. There are many ways to do it, and many apps that can support you if you’d like to learn*. Even if you don’t want to meditate, give yourself some time to be quiet and present in the moment. You can sit, you can walk, be in nature, listen to gentle music, just look around and really notice – all this helps you relax your mind and body to be more present.

My meditation practice has helped quiet my mind, making me calmer and more open to my own wisdom. Any practice you take up will help you learn that you are not your thoughts, which are constantly changing. When you become quiet and learn to watch your continual thoughts go by like clouds, you can more fully appreciate what is happening around you. You can connect to what’s important, to your own truth and what’s happening now. You’re more able to experience the specialness of the holidays this way.

CONNECT, ENGAGE, AND FIND MEANING

So much stress is created by holding ourselves to some bar of accomplishment. But common sense and research shows this never brings us the happiness we seek. No time is it more important than the holidays to practice being fully engaged, connected and finding the meaning in what you are doing.

Try sitting quietly – be present and just notice your breath, notice what’s around you, what you hear, feel inside. Doing this regularly allows you to be more open, relaxed, and able to engage. It helps you be real, more vulnerable, allowing for deeper and more meaningful relationships. Being present with people enhances your sense of community and connectedness. This is the path to finding meaning, it helps us discover the real spirit of the holidays.

COMPASSION – NOT JUDGEMENT

We’re usually our worst critics, which tends to foster more isolation and negative self-absorption. When we focus on developing self-compassion, our mindfulness practice helps us allow our thoughts and feelings with acceptance, not judgement. We’re able to go into them, befriending them, not avoiding them.

It’s a busy time, a time when stress can make us feel tight on the inside with agendas and worry. Try giving yourself a break, recognizing that you are doing the best you can. Give yourself credit for all you manage. Take away all thoughts of judgement and replace it with kind and encouraging self-talk. Watch how your shoulders drop and your breathing slows down. Compassion relaxes us from the inside out.

FINDING COMMONALITY – FINDING MEANING

When you extend compassion to others, the mind quickly begins to find our commonality. It opens us to a profound awareness, as I’ve discovered in my travels, which moved me to the core– that we are more alike than different. Our nation and the world need this awareness cultivated now more than ever. You can begin with this simple practice.

Dr. Siegel had us do this loving kindness mantra – you can do it silently or quietly, like a prayer. Say “May I be happy, peaceful, free from suffering, may my loved ones be happy, peaceful, free from suffering, may all beings be happy, peaceful, free from suffering”. Repeat this often, pausing between each phrase to fully consider the message. It sends a powerful wave of loving generosity out that connects us to something greater. We are all in this together. This soothing thought can change you from the inside out, making your interactions more compassionate, giving your holidays more meaning.

As you embrace your holidays, let this also be a time to consider bringing more mindfulness and compassion into your experience. Allow some alone time, meditate or be fully aware of your surroundings to enhance your ability to be more present. A mindfulness practice helps you cultivate the ability to be more engaged and connected in a meaningful way. Practice being compassionate toward yourself by silencing the inner critic and losing negative judgement. Extend this to others and you will discover our commonality that brings everyone closer together. When you develop these practices over the holidays, you will find them to be more peaceful, connected and meaningful.

Would you like to enhance your mindfulness and compassion? These are skills I teach and use in my Transformational Coaching and Therapy that will enhance the quality of your life. Reach out to me on my website www.spectrumtransformation.com and use my Free Consultation link to reach me. I’d love to share this beautiful information with you.

*Resources

 

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Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com