The Nature of Self-Compassion Yoga Kids

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“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
~ Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching)

Of all the tools available to us for handling difficult circumstances, self-compassion surely stands as one of the most efficacious. And this is as much true for our children as for us.
In her book, Real Happiness at Work, Sharon Salzberg writes, “Compassion is the recognition that conscious or unconscious unhappiness is the cause of so many difficult behaviours, and loving-kindness is the wish that all beings be peaceful and happy.” Self-compassion, then, consists of a genuine well-wishing towards ourselves. A sincere desire that we be happy.

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Citing the work of psychologist Kristin Neff, Sharon goes on to explain that self-compassion has three dimensions:

  • Mindfulness: A bringing of awareness to difficult emotions like shame and anger, and an acceptance thereof.
  • Common Humanity: A sense of being human and part of the human community and, therefore, imperfect.
  • Kindness: A feeling of gentleness and warmth towards ourselves, rather than scathing self-blame.

The wondrous thing about self-compassion is that, no matter how difficult our circumstances might be, it always anchors us to our own self-worth. The meditation below is an easy and effective way to begin cultivating feelings of compassion to yourself. Try practising it with your children. It might help instil this positive attitude at an early age.

Loving-Kindness Meditation

  1. Seat yourself comfortably and close your eyes. Take a handful of deep, calming breaths.
  2. Begin by saying silently to yourself, “May I be happy…may I be well…may I be loved.”
  3. Next, picturing a person who is dear to you, say, “May you be happy…may you be well…may you be loved.”
  4. The third step is to picture a person for whom you hold no particularly strong feelings. The postman, a person you briefly spoke to today, even a neighbour. Picturing that person, say, “May you be happy…may you be well…may you be loved.”

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  1. Next, picture a person for whom you hold negative feelings. Then, as best you can, say to them, “May you be happy…may you be well…may you be loved.”
  2. Finally, consider yourself as part of the larger human community, and say to yourself: “May all beings be happy…may all beings be  well…may all beings  be loved.”

Training – Teach Kids Yoga