5 Mindful Meditations to Increase Self-Compassion

Updated: May 2, 2019



Meditating has age-old benefits to mental (& physical) health, and has been scientifically proven to increase mindfulness and positively impact individuals' meaning of life. As well as aiding emotional and cognitive regulation, meditation also reduces anxiety and promotes positive feelings of well-being. Self-compassion has been briefly discussed on Rose-Minded before, however this article gives an in-depth look at the benefits of self-compassion for your mental health.

What is Self-Compassion?

Dr. Kristin Neff is the main researcher behind the term "self-compassion"; she was the first to coin the term, add a definition, and learn how to measure the construct of self-compassion. Today, she is still one of the leading experts in the field of self-compassion and has even written a book titled, Self-Compassion [The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself].


Dr. Kristin Neff

Self-compassion, in short, is giving yourself the same compassion and kindness that you would give a loved one. For example, let's say your friend failed a test and is really down on himself about his low grade. As a good friend you try to encourage him and lift his spirits by being supportive and optimistic about the next test, even offering to help him study. Now, let's say you fail a test and have very little self-compassion or haven't heard the term before. You are hard on yourself for getting a low grade and don't see the point in studying more next time because you "obviously just aren't good at this subject". See the difference?

Dr. Neff divides self-compassion into three elements:


Now that you have a basic understanding of self-compassion, find out how much self-compassion you already have. On Dr. Neff's website, you can quickly discover how self-compassionate you are by taking her short quiz. You'll receive your results immediately after with an interpretation of your scores. Take the quiz now.

How to Begin Your Mindful Meditation

Begin your meditation in a quiet space, for example your bedroom, backyard, a garden, or even the bathroom if you have trouble finding a peaceful place to meditate. Sit with your legs crossed and Focus on good posture:

  • Stretch your arms upwards and feel the pull as your muscles flex and move

  • Bring your hands down to your head, gently pulling right then left to stretch your neck [this should not hurt]

  • Bring your arms down further and pull each one across your chest, stretching your shoulders, followed by each arm bent behind your head

  • Roll your shoulders back until you feel like you're sitting up straight [sit against a wall or straight back of a chair if you feel this would help; if sitting on a chair, uncross your legs and place each foot flat on the ground]

  • Hold this position and gently rest your hands on each leg with open palms facing upward

  • I recommend writing down the meditation you plan on practicing before you meditate, so it's fresh in your mind and you can check it any time during your meditation! You can also convert these into journal prompts and journal your way to self-compassion.

5 Mindful Meditations to Increase Self-Compassion

1. Body Awareness Inventory

Start your meditation with eyes closed, good posture, and muscles relaxed. Take a deep breath and hold it for 6 seconds. As you exhale, release all the tension in your body. Do this until you feel your muscles are completely tension-free.

- With eyes closed, notice your fingers and toes. You may move them slightly to become aware of their location and feel but keep still once you're fully aware. Think of all the things your fingers and toes do for you: your fingers help you hold/grip items, and your toes help you stay balanced. Appreciate a few more functions of your fingers and toes.

- After a few moments, move your awareness up to your arms and legs. Appreciate the functions these do for you, such as help you walk/run and carry heavy items. Brainstorm a few more functions you can express gratitude for.

- Do the same with your torso, then move up to your head. This can take a few extra moments because of all the vital organs in these areas that help you live. Appreciate all that your body does for you.

When you're finished with this meditation, complete the stretches mentioned above again before opening your eyes. Take in a deep breath and hold it in your lungs for 6 seconds, and as you release your breath let all of the toxic negativity, tension, and stress leave your body. You should feel calm and renewed.

2. Conversation With a Friend

Start your meditation with eyes closed, good posture, and muscles relaxed. Take a deep breath and hold it for 6 seconds. As you exhale, release all the tension in your body. Do this until you feel your muscles are completely tension-free.

- With eyes closed, imagine a good friend in front of you. This person is complaining about all their negative qualities, and as their friend, it is your job to support and encourage them. Imagine what your friend would say and listen intently.

- Replace each negative quality or complaint with a positive one you know to be true about your friend.

- Open your eyes and place yourself in front of a mirror. Have the same conversation as above, but with yourself. Replace every negative thought about yourself with a positive one you know to be true. If this takes a while, it means your self-compassion is pretty low and this exercise will help immensely.

When you're finished with this meditation, complete the stretches mentioned above again before opening your eyes. Take in a deep breath and hold it in your lungs for 6 seconds, and as you release your breath let all of the toxic negativity, tension, and stress leave your body. You should feel calm and renewed.

3. Suffering

Start your meditation with eyes closed, good posture, and muscles relaxed. Take a deep breath and hold it for 6 seconds. As you exhale, release all the tension in your body. Do this until you feel your muscles are completely tension-free.

- Everyone in the world experiences suffering. You are not alone. This doesn't diminish your own suffering, but instead allows you to feel comforted by the fact that suffering is a natural part of life due to the imperfect human condition.

- While keeping the above ideas in the back of your mind, repeat the phrase "I am not alone" either out loud or to yourself.

When you're finished with this meditation, complete the stretches mentioned above again before opening your eyes. Take in a deep breath and hold it in your lungs for 6 seconds, and as you release your breath let all of the toxic negativity, tension, and stress leave your body. You should feel calm and renewed.

4. Reducing Stress and Finding Peace

Start your meditation with eyes closed, good posture, and muscles relaxed. Take a deep breath and hold it for 6 seconds. As you exhale, release all the tension in your body. Do this until you feel your muscles are completely tension-free.

- Imagine you are in a beautiful place in nature [ex. secret garden, next to a creek, in the forest, on the beach] and pay attention to all the details in this setting you've created.

- Are there animals in your vision? Is there any water nearby? Is the water moving or still? Don't try and control the nature around you by quieting animals or rushing water. Just like we can't control the forces of nature in reality, all we can do is appreciate its beauty and control our own thoughts and emotions.

- What emotions do you feel in this moment? Are you happy, stressed, sad, or calm? Don't try to dig too deep into the reason behind each emotion, just acknowledge the emotion and reason for it and allow yourself to be human in this natural setting. - Practice "box breathing". Inhale slowly for 4 seconds, not only taking in air to your lungs but all the way down into your diaphragm [your stomach should move with your breathing along with your chest]. Hold this inhale for 4 more seconds, then slowly release the air for a count of 4 seconds. You can trace the outline of a box while you do this exercise to help you relax and breathe evenly. Before inhaling again, hold your breath for 4 more seconds, then repeat the box!

- Now, practice box breathing in the natural setting you've created for yourself. Do this for about 5-7 minutes.

When you're finished with this meditation, complete the stretches mentioned above again before opening your eyes. Take in a deep breath and hold it in your lungs for 6 seconds, and as you release your breath let all of the toxic negativity, tension, and stress leave your body. You should feel calm and renewed.

5. Gratitude

Start your meditation with eyes closed, good posture, and muscles relaxed. Take a deep breath and hold it for 6 seconds. As you exhale, release all the tension in your body. Do this until you feel your muscles are completely tension-free.

- Create a list in your mind of everything you are grateful for in this order:

-- Home life

-- Work and/or academic life

-- Friendships and family relationships

-- Finances

-- Personal achievements

-- Positive qualities and characteristics

-- Any progress you've made over the past year

-- Opportunities you've recieved

-- Any privileges you've been granted

- It may seem hard to feel grateful for everything listed above, but try your best to acknowledge even one gratitude for each list item.

- If negative thoughts arise during this meditation try to bring your focus back to the present exercise and continue. You should end this meditation feeling filled with gratitude!

When you're finished with this meditation, complete the stretches mentioned above again before opening your eyes. Take in a deep breath and hold it in your lungs for 6 seconds, and as you release your breath let all of the toxic negativity, tension, and stress leave your body. You should feel calm and renewed.

After practicing these meditations, you should feel increased personal insight and self-compassion. Mediating doesn't have to take up all your free time, you can start with 5 minutes and work up to 10/15 minutes once you get the hang of it. Mediation takes practice and patience just like any other new hobby, so don't give up after the first few tries!

You May Also Enjoy: Meditation for Mental Health | Muse

Visit www.self-compassion.org to learn more about self-compassion from Dr. Neff.


#mindfulness #meditation #selfcompassion #breathingexercises

Quick Links
Get in Touch
  • Facebook - Black Circle
  • Pinterest - Black Circle
  • Instagram - Black Circle

© 2017 - 2020 by Rose-Minded | kay@rose-minded.com | California