MIND = HEART

Did you know, the word for mind is the same word for heart in the East? Being mindful is so much more than clinical exercises in concentration. Mindfulness is an holistic discipline which embraces every aspect of our experience of life, whether good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, wanted or unwanted; – thoughts, feelings, senses and emotions.

SELF-COMPASSION

Compassion is defined as:

a feeling of distress and pity for the suffering or misfortune of another, often including the desire to alleviate it.

The practice of mindfulness involves self-compassion and compassion for others. 

Self-compassion is an important aspect of self-worth, self-esteem and self-confidence.

Most of us tend to be own worst critic. We chastise ourselves more harshly than we do others. We can be meaner and more unkind to ourselves than we would ever dream of being to others. But we all have a fragile side to us which needs nurturing.

I sometimes ask my clients (coaching and hypnotherapy not mindfulness!), “What is the worst thing you say to yourself when you make a mistake or mess something up?”. The answer is often something they wouldn’t dream of saying to friends, if they did talk to their friends like that, they probably wouldn’t have many.

Being kind and gracious with ourselves enables us to have the resources to be kinder to others. It’s a bit like the flight attendant safety briefing you receive each time you fly. If there is a drop in cabin pressure, you are instructed to place a mask over your own face before attending to others. Why? You’re going to be no help to your loved ones if you’re not OK yourself.

Self-compassion involves being kind, gentle and considerate with yourself when you’re facing a difficulty. It doesn’t mean we don’t face up to the challenges before us, it just means we do so with a gentle touch.

EMPATHY

Before studying this topic myself, I didn’t know there was a difference but empathy and compassion are slightly different.

Empathy is an ability to recognise the feelings of others, to vicariously experience what others are going through. Studies have shown that babies from as young as three months are able to recognise facial expressions of others and imitate them in some way. This ability to recognise facial features and imitate them is a window into what others may be feeling. Empathy enables connection and helps us to build supportive relationships, a vital part of community.

Mindfulness training involves the exploration of offering kindness and compassion to ourselves and others. We examine how it feels to offer kind thoughts to people we like and also those we find it hard to like. We examine our responses, our thoughts and emotions. We’re not performing any psychoanalysis, we’re simply noticing what occurs in our world, moment-by-moment when we practice empathy.

NOT CLINICAL OR COLD

Mindfulness is far more than exercises in concentartion or focus and it is not just a technique to help you to manage your thoughts. The awareness that comes from mindfulness allows us to notice our inner world of thoughts and feelings and approach them with tenderness. The same applies to others too.

As we continue on our journey to being more mindful and more aware, we inevitably begin to notice the nuances in the connections we have with others.  We cannot help but affect each other. Hopefully, mindfulness will help us to make those connections more and more filled with love and kindness.