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  • Writer's pictureThalien Colenbrander

HEALING HABIT #2 - practising self-compassion

Updated: Dec 30, 2022

If we didn’t know it already, we learnt it during the pandemic. The importance of touch. How natural it comes to humans to offer each other comfort and compassion through touching, caressing, hugging. How healing it feels to be on the giving or receiving end of a heartfelt embrace. And how sorely we miss it when the option is unavailable! Even when there’s no beloved person or pet around to quite literally ‘hold on to’, there’s something similar you can do to soothe and release tension. It’s employing gestures and words of self-compassion towards oneself. For example by:

  • Folding both hands over your heart space

  • Placing one hand on the heart, the other on the belly

  • Cupping your cheeks with both hands

You can boost the effect of these gestures by offering yourself some comforting words, the way you would for a loved one. For example: “It's perfectly normal to feel like this right now", “It’s going to be okay. Let’s take this one day at a time”, or a similar phrase that resonates with you.

“Water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend." – Bruce Lee

Another thing you can do is ask yourself, “What do I need right now?” or “What can I do for myself to honour that need?” According to Harvard brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, ninety seconds is all it takes to identify an emotion and allow it to dissipate while you simply notice it. When we resist however, it’s like the emotions crash against a wall within us and get trapped, thus lengthening the lifespan of these difficult feelings. Caring for ourselves in the ways suggested above, we become like water and allow life and emotions to pass through us.

This practice is not about ‘fixing’ yourself or fighting the trigger. It’s about simply offering yourself your presence. A close friend recently shared a practise with me that I found incredibly helpful. He wrote:

“One of the things I discovered, is that fundamentally, I often feel unsafe. I don't necessarily feel afraid, I just feel alone and unsafe in a way I can't really describe. Part of the recovery has been learning to recognize and address this - even though I often don't really know what it is I should be doing to take care of myself. Just recognizing it, acknowledging the sense of feeling unsafe, and deciding that I'm going to prioritize looking after myself, even if I don't know what to do, that has been enough.”

His words really touched me and reminded me to let my feelings ride, while being fully present. We can’t stop the waves, but we can learn how to ride them. The word emotion is actually based on the Latin emovere, from e- (variant of ex- ) ‘out’ + movere ‘move’. So allow emotions to be true to their nature – allow them to move, roll, wave, and swirl. Practising embodied self compassion in this way, helps us to slow down, be with what is, and create space for the tension to dissipate. One of my favourite quotes is by Viktor E. Frankl who said:

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

The power to choose means having the option to respond with kindness and self-care, rather than jumping into reactivity and self-defeating coping mechanisms. Many people (including myself) have a tendency to turn on themselves when life gets hard. Either we actively berate ourselves by speaking to ourselves harshly in our minds. Or we berate ourselves more subtly, by sheer neglect. Not paying attention to our feelings, stuffing them away. Newsflash: Neglect is a form of abuse. We readily accept this fact when it comes to child-rearing. But whether we are parents or not, we are continuously raising our own adult, too. It never ends. We all want to be responsible adults. Well, practising self-compassion is practising response-ability. It is a crucial tool for befriending oneself, for feeling at home and safe in one's own body and mind. Read my blog post on self-compassion here.

I’ll be sharing some more of my healing habits in blog posts to come, running up to The Healing Habits Retreat, 21-26 January in Andalusia, Spain. You’re welcome to join me and dharma teacher & therapeutic counsellor Charlotte Adler on this special retreat. It’s the perfect time to assess, align and adopt or ditch habits in accordance with our intentions for the new year.

We're offering a delicious and intelligent potion of insightful dharma talks, powerful brain hacks, nourishing yoga, mindfulness practices, sound healing, dance, delicious food and so much more!

The €100 discount is still valid till January 9th 2023. Click here for all the details.

Love, Thalien xx

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