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The befriending meditation: How to be kind to yourself

Photo by Kevin Gent on Unsplash

Hi, and welcome to the sixth week of the Mindfulness Program!

The befriending meditation is one of my favourite parts of the program. It’s time to treat yourself with kindness!​

Please note that all exercises and meditations are from the book Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World by professor Mark Williams and journalist Danny Penman.

Let’s practice self-compassion this week!

Overview Week 6: Mindfulness

Week Six develops the process of acceptance even further, exploring how negative ways of thinking gradually dissipate when you actively cultivate loving kindness and compassion with a Befriending Meditation and acts of generosity in daily life.

Cultivating friendship towards yourself is the cornerstone of finding peace in a frantic world.

Main idea: Treating yourself with kindness

How harsh and judgemental are you towards yourself?

​Treating yourself with kindness and ceasing to judge yourself harshly are cornerstones of finding peace in a frantic world. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I criticise myself for having irrational or inappropriate emotions?
  • Do I tell myself I shouldn’t be feeling the way I’m feeling?
  • Do I believe some of my thoughts are abnormal or bad and I shouldn’t think that way?
  • Do I make judgments about whether my thoughts are good or bad?
  • Do I tell myself that I shouldn’t be thinking the way I do?
  • Do I think some of my emotions are bad or inappropriate and I shouldn’t feel them?
  • When I’m having distressing thoughts or images, do I judge myself as good or bad, depending on what the thought/image is about?
  • Do I disapprove of myself when I have irrational ideas?

If you endorsed strongly more than one or two of these questions, you may be being too hard on yourself.

Could you begin treating yourself with more compassion?

The trick with this questionnaire is to understand that you’re being too harsh on yourself without seeing this fact as a criticism. See your responses as an aid to awareness, rather than as a sign of success or failure.

Week 6: The befriending meditation

Meditation 6: Befriending

The Befriending Meditation helps cultivate a sense of kindness and compassion for yourself and others. It works from the important principle that you can’t help others without helping yourself first.

If you know you easily criticise yourself, then this meditation is for you.

It’s an essential part of my self-care routine. Hope you find it useful!

Habit releaser #1: Reclaiming your life

Think back to a time in your life when things seemed less frantic, before the time when some tragedy or increase in workload took over your daily existence. Recall in as much detail as you can some of the activities that you used to do at that time.

These may be things you did by yourself (reading your favourite magazines, taking time to listen to a track from a favourite piece of music, going out for a walk to bike rides) or spending time together with friends or family (from playing board games to going to the movies).

Choose one of these activities and plan to do it this week.

Please don’t wait until you feel like doing it, do it anyway and see what happens. It’s time to reclaim your life.

Habit releaser #2: Do a good-natured deed for someone else

Why not carry out a random act of kindness? It needn’t be something big.

You could help your colleagues out by tidying their desks, assisting neighbours carrying their shopping or doing something for your partner that you know they hate doing themselves.

If you finished a good book or newspaper, why not leave it on the bus seat?

Why not get rid of a few possessions that you no longer need and have been cluttering up your home? Instead of throwing them away or recycling them, try freecycling them.

(Freecycling is an international movement that allows you to get rid of your old stuff by giving it away to people who need it and are willing to collect it.)

Practices for Week Six

There is one new meditation this week. It is the 10-minute Befriending Meditation to be done on six days out of the next seven.

Each time you come to do it, prepare yourself by sitting quietly using Body and Breath Meditation or Mindful Movement, or if you feel able without the help of any tracks at all.

In addition: Continue the three-minute Breathing Space Meditation, aiming to do this twice a day and whenever you feel you need it.

You should also try to carry out one of the habit releases, reclaiming your life or doing a good-natured deed for someone else. See how these random acts of generosity change the mood in your daily life.

Over to you

I hope you’re finding this week’s Befriending Meditation and habit releasers useful. They’ve helped me a lot in my personal development, especially when I’m taking on new challenges or doing something outside of my comfort zone.

How can you be more kind to yourself, today and in the future? Just reply to any of my emails or leave a comment on this article below.

Have a great week! Stay safe, and take care.

Thanks for reading.

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