There's so much to say about the benefits of developing a conscious self-compassion practise that I feel it's really important to address something I encounter frequently as a teacher promoting mindfulness and self-compassion. This might take the form of a question like 'aren't I supposed to feel better?' or even when there are no words but a practise including directing compassion towards oneself leads to tears and profound sadness. Why is it so easy to feel kindness to others and so hard to apply the same guidelines to the way we interact with our own stuff? Why are we 'useless' where a friend in a similar situation might be 'unlucky.'
I have observed how common it is for people to put themselves down, sometimes viciously for apparently innocuous things. I've done it myself and, though mercifully more rarely now, I still do it. We also live in a world that deals harsh cards, provides us with hostile interactions and multiple reasons to believe we're simply not good enough. This begins to explain the issue of feeling worse when committing to a practise which, one would hope, would lead to greater feelings of peace and happiness.
I often say to my students 'well done' for turning up. Sometimes this gets surprised looks, so I follow by reminding them that turning up to a practise where we sit with ourselves and endeavour to be just as we are takes tremendous courage. There's plenty enough to distract us to temporarily mask and alleviate the discomfort in our lives. So I'll say it again, it takes an act of courage to decide 'I'm not going to distract, I'm going to allow myself to be just as I am'. Turning up to practise - and I mean that in the physical sense and also the metaphysical sense of being present – is enough. From there we get to see what magic happens.
So considering the above: the harsh inner dialogue, difficult life experiences and maybe not feeling enough. When we consciously apply kindness to ourselves it can often go two ways. On one hand it can feel like a relief; it can feel amazing to give much needed kindness and confidence can grow tremendously. On the other hand we may become aware of the ways in which we are not kind; the ways in which we've missed out on love and kindness, or have been treated badly and that hurts. With the practise of mindfulness we endeavour to allow this experience to be however it manifests, since change is inevitable we practise supporting our experience without requiring it to be different. Something I say which comes directly from my teacher before me is, 'if you can't be kind to yourself right now, be kind to the experience of not being kind to yourself. That way it always ends with kindness.
It is generally common knowledge that practising yoga and meditation is profoundly transformative. Though like any human activity it is possible to practise in a harsh demanding way that is injurious to ourselves. For me self-compassion is an essential link that ensures our practises are transformative, supportive and, ultimately, healing.
So I invite you now to say out loud or silently to yourself I am enough and simply notice what happens...