Monday night sit: Self-compassion

Over at the secret meditation group, we’ll start with a short guided meditation by Sharon Salzberg on the topic of self-compassion.

After a break, we’ll share and discuss this short talk by Kristin Neff, an ed psych professor at UT Austin.

Kristin Neff on self-esteem vs. self-compassion

Neff’s explains self-compassion as having three elements:

  1. Kindness to oneself (rather than judgement of oneself),
  2. Allowing individual dissatisfaction to open us toward shared human experience (rather than toward isolation), and
  3. A state of open awareness rather than identification with thought.

So what?

Here’s a cycle I notice myself wallowing in:

  • Something goes wrong out there in the environment ⤵
  • I think . o O (that is pointless, why? come on? etc.) ⤵
  • I identify totally and completely with the thought ⤵
  • I am critical and spiteful of the person who had the thought.

In short, I’ll borrow from the environment in order to be overly critical or judgmental of myself. I get the sense a lot of people spend a lot of time doing this. It’s not just me, and it’s not just you. Life’s too short to spend it on this ride.

Personally, I find at least two ways to bust that cycle:

  1. First, when something goes wrong in our environment—we notice a problem, or a situation, or even a trivial mistake or embarrassment—we’re energized enough to think it’s important, but if we don’t have a machine for problem-solving to chuck it into, instead we’ll hold onto it and worry, stress, and think. (Countermeasure: get what’s bugging you into a problem-solving system and out of your awareness.)
  2. Second, when thoughts do arise, there’s no need to identify with them or hold them in any particular regard. It’s a default mode, and thankfully one we can get away from. (Countermeasure: practice open awareness. Easier said than done!)