If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion. Dalai Lama
You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. Buddha
Jay Rayner has been on TV and radio recently promoting The Claire Rayner Scholarship for the study of Compassion in Nursing and Midwifery Care at Huddersfield University. In her role as Chief Executive of the Patients Association, Claire Rayner campaigned for care and compassion in all health matters. She was disturbed by what she saw as routine neglect in some hospital geriatric units.
It may have been this news item that prompted our thoughts about compassion this month, however, it is not the lack of compassion for others that Claire witnessed that is evident in our practice, but a lack of care and kindness towards the self. We find clients are often excessively self-critical and use words to berate themselves that they would never use on another. A disapproving and judgemental attitude towards ourselves is damaging to our sense of wellbeing and to our health.
The health and mental health communities are getting an increasingly better picture of how our brains work and how our thinking can impact our health. Chronic inflammation, as we know, plays a key role in almost all ill-health including major illnesses such as certain types of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and arthritis. The vagus nerve is the major inflammation reducing mechanism in the body and scientists, in recent studies, have shown the link between the health of the vagus nerve and compassion. Dacher Keltner at the University of California found that people who are the most compassionate have higher vagal tone and Barbara Fredrickson, a psychology professor at Emory University School of Medicine demonstrated that feelings of compassion for the self and others, stimulate the vagus nerve. In a related article, Dr David Hamilton, suggests that perhaps we could slow the aging process by expressing compassion, as inflammation is one of the major accelerators of aging in the body.
We’ve got everything to gain by being warm and understanding towards ourselves rather than getting frustrated, angry and disappointed when we think we don’t measure up in some way.
Become more aware of your critical self-talk
Focus on one thought and say it in your head
Where is the voice coming from?
Change the direction.
Change the volume.
Change the tone.
Change the emphasis.
Change the rhythm.
Notice the change in how you feel. Practise to re-train the brain.
For the tappers:
Start the set-up with “Even though – then add the phrase you are using – eg. “I was stupid when I ………………. (Remember to be specific) and follow with “I choose to accept myself anyway and speak more kindly to myself in future.”
Jocelyn and Kristina at Trance-Formed