Self-Compassion Practices

These recorded practices are designed to help you be with yourself in a healthy and supportive way. Please note that these practices are not a substitute for therapy.

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General Self-Compassion Break

This practice intentionally brings the three components of self-compassion to bear on a current struggle.

Tender Self-Compassion Break

This practice can help you accept yourself and your difficult emotions when you need comfort and soothing.

Protective Self-Compassion Break

This practice can help you be brave so you can speak up, draw a boundary, or protect yourself.

Providing Self-Compassion Break

This practice can help you focus on what you need to be fulfilled and happy.

Motivating Self-Compassion Break

This practice can be used to help motivate you to reach a goal or make a change.

Self-Compassion while Caregiving

This practice can be used by caregivers when caring for someone in pain to reduce burnout and stress.

Soles of the Feet

This practice can help ground and stabilize you if you're experiencing difficult emotions.

Soften, soothe, allow: Working with difficult emotions

This practice can help you work with difficult emotions so they aren't so overwhelming.

Noting Practice

This meditation helps develop the skill of mindful awareness of your thoughts and emotions.

Compassionate Friend

This guided visualization helps you meet an inner compassionate friend who can help you at any moment.

Fierce Friend

This guided visualization helps you meet an inner fiercely compassionate friend who can help you find the courage needed to take action.

Balancing Yin and Yang

This meditation helps you balance the yin and yang energy of tender and fierce self-compassion.

Giving and Receiving Compassion

This meditation uses the breath to  both give and receive compassion.

Affectionate Breathing

This classic breath meditation is infused with warmth and goodwill.

Compassionate Body Scan

Appreciation and compassion are given to each body part in this variation on the classic body scan.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

This variation on traditional loving-kindness mediation helps you generate goodwill toward yourself.

Self-Compassion/Loving-Kindness Meditation

This version of loving-kindness meditation helps you generate compassion for a mistake or perceived inadequacy.

This photo shows a woman with both hands on her chest.

Exercise 2: Self-Compassion Break

This exercise can be used any time of day or night and will help you remember to apply the three aspects of self-compassion to your distress when you need it.

A happy woman embracing herself.

Exercise 4: Supportive Touch

In this exercise you will learn how to activate your parasympathetic nervous system by using physical touch. Soothing and supportive touch can help you feel calm, cared for and safe.

Man sitting and writing in a notebook.

Exercise 6: Self-Compassion Journal

Keeping a daily journal is a useful exercise which can help you process the difficult events of your day through a lens of self-compassion, enhancing both mental and physical well-being.

Self-compassion is often a radically new way of relating to ourselves. Research shows that the more we practice being kind and compassionate with ourselves, either using informal practices such as the Self-Compassion Break, or formal meditation practices such as Affectionate Breathing – the more we’ll increase the habit of self-compassion.

There are a few tips to practicing self-compassion that are important to keep in mind for novice and experienced practitioners alike. Self-compassion is a practice of goodwill, not good feelings. In other words, even though the friendly, supportive stance of self-compassion is aimed at the alleviation of suffering, we can’t always control the way things are. If we use self-compassion practice to try to make our pain go away by suppressing it or fighting against it, things will likely just get worse. With self-compassion we mindfully accept that the moment is painful, and embrace ourselves with kindness and care in response, remembering that imperfection is part of the shared human experience. This allows us to hold ourselves in love and connection, giving ourselves the support and comfort needed to bear the pain, while providing the optimal conditions for growth and transformation.

Some people find that when they practice self-compassion, their pain actually increases at first. We call this phenomena backdraft, a firefighting term that describes what happens when a door in a burning house is opened – oxygen goes in and flames rush out. A similar process can occur when we open the door of our hearts – love goes in and old pain comes out. There are a couple sayings that describe this process: “When we give ourselves unconditional love, we discover the conditions under which we were unloved” or “Love reveals everything unlike itself.” Fortunately, we can meet old pain with the resources of mindfulness and self-compassion and the heart will naturally begin to heal. Still, it means we have to allow ourselves to be slow learners when it comes to practicing self-compassion. And if we ever feel overwhelmed by difficult emotions, the most self-compassionate response may be to pull back temporarily – focus on the breath, the sensation of the soles of our feet on the ground, or engage in ordinary, behavioral acts of self-care such as having a cup of tea or petting the cat. By doing so we reinforce the habit of self-compassion – giving ourselves what we need in the moment – planting seeds that will eventually blossom and grow.

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