I’m a week into my 30 days of meditation, and I don’t have any major results to report yet. I feel like this one will take longer to recognize the best effects – especially since I do meditate occasionally already, and I do a relaxation or form of meditation several times a week with yoga. Of course the immediate effects of a meditation include relaxation, calming and focusing your thoughts, reducing stress, etc. I have been with my family all this week, and I guess if I can go in a back room and meditate for 15 minutes or so, with all the noise and laughing and baby crying coming from the other room – and still be able to mostly let go of my thoughts and relax, then it is definitely effective at clearing and focusing the mind.
UT Associate Professor Kristin Neff has an interesting website and book about self-compassion and meditation. I found out about Dr. Neff from another New York Times article called Go Easy on Yourself, which says that our self-compassion (or rather lack of it) creates a lot of depression and anxiety. I found this article to be extremely interesting, and astute, and so thought I would share it.
Among other things, the article states:
Giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic.
Dr. Neff has developed a self-compassion scale: 26 statements meant to determine how often people are kind to themselves, and whether they recognize that ups and downs are simply part of life.”
You can test your own self-compassion level here. And here are some exercises that are recommended for practicing more kindness toward ourselves:
- Write yourself a letter of support, just as you might to a friend you are concerned about.
- List your best and worst traits, reminding yourself that nobody is perfect and thinking of steps you might take to help you feel better about yourself.
- Take “compassion breaks,” which involve repeating mantras like “I’m going to be kind to myself in this moment.”