Children in Crossfire staff were recently invited to attend a Well-being session hosted by Brendan Ozawa-De Silva, associate professor of psychology at Life University, and a good friend and supporter of Children in Crossfire. The session was based on the teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Self-Compassion.
Self-compassion is a powerful tool we can use to not only ground ourselves in a stressful situation to create a higher level of consciousness for more positive and productive decision making, but it is also a technique we can develop into something bigger that will help us in our interactions with other people.
We participated in group talks, exercises and meditations to explore and learn more about Self-compassion, and of course, we had a few laughs in the process!
What did we learn?
Our brain is a muscle and just like any muscle in our body it needs care, and exercise to stay strong. Like our muscles, it can weaken and need repair. But what if we trained and exercised our minds from the start keeping it strong all the time rather than waiting until it needs to be repaired to care for it?
1.What is Self-Compassion?
Self-compassion is the tools and techniques we can all learn and use every day to keep our minds in a healthy place and transform our emotions into healthy self-expression.
We learned about self-compassion through exploring our ‘Resilience Zone’. In this zone, we are generally ok. Every day there are factors that push us to the edge of our resilience zone. They can make us feel sad, sleepy, energetic, stressed and angry but never to an extreme where we have no control of our rational thought. It’s a good place to be. It’s productive.
2.What happens outside our Resilience Zone?
Being pushed out of our resilience zone can lead us to get become either ‘Hyper’ or ‘Hypo’.
In a Hyper state, we become manic and irrational. A person can judge themselves harshly, experience physical symptoms such as headaches, redness in the face, self-doubt, a fast heart or even shortness of breath.
On the other hand, we have the Hypo state. Here a person can feel sad, lethargic or trapped. They may self-medicate or justify destructive behaviours to themselves and engage in self-sympathy. And of course, they can have physical symptoms like above.
These are unproductive places to be. A person cannot find a rational solution because in this ‘fight of flight’ mode they cannot process new information.
3.How do we get back to our Resilience Zone?
We have resources. These are things that we can use to provoke positive thoughts and feelings in the body. To help us get to this point we can train our brain to think of something that brings us a sense of calm, joy and safety, this could be thinking of children, your pets, and a memory of a place you love, a person you love. Remembering our resource can help us bring ourselves back our resilience zone.
Meditation. You might be picturing someone sitting with their legs crossed, hands resting on their knees right now but it’s much more than that! It can be done in many ways. Some like it with a person/audio to guide them through it. Some like to walk, others like to sit. You can do it at home, at work, on the bus, it doesn’t matter. And you don’t always need silence. The important thing is you use your resource to ground yourself, concentrating on the positive feeling in your body when you think of it and
bringing yourself to a place of awareness, focusing on the sounds, sights and sensations around you.
It can be hard in the beginning; you might only manage a minute or two of it. Your mind might be easily distracted. This is all fine and normal, just be aware of your mind wandering and bring it back. Every time you do it you get stronger. Like doing repetitions of press-ups to make your muscles stronger.
“In order to carry out a positive action, we must develop here a positive vision” – The Dalai Lama
4.Why is Self-Compassion important for ourselves?
When we take the time to slow down and deal with the stress we have and care for and strengthen our minds. We become capable of coping with stressful situations in a healthier way. We become more conscious of our decisions and reactions. And we are able to transform our emotions into productive self-expression. We become capable of practical, rational thoughts in order to create solutions. It is important to have compassion for ourselves the way we would for the ones we are close to in order to battle our own fears and self-doubt.
“If you want to be happy practice compassion, if you want others to happy practice compassion” – The Dalai Lama
5.Why is Self-Compassion important for the world?
We depend on countless people every day for our survival. As baby’s, we need the investment and care from other people to make it to our 1st birthdays. This dependency on other people doesn’t really leave us throughout our lives. We need other people; the farmers who lovingly grow our crops, the seamstress who bring textiles to life, the store worker who brings us our goods, the drivers who transport our goods, the posties, police and paramedics, Our Family and our friends.
Extending gratitude to the people we rely on each day can help us build empathy, understanding and solidarity. This will help us to challenge any injustice they may face and move us to active compassion where we actively work to alleviate suffering and injustice. Sometimes it can be easier to feel compassion for our close circle, however with an understanding of compassion and self-compassion, we can learn about the world and develop perspectives that reflect the common humanity and sense of universality that makes our planet unique.
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive” – The Dalai Lama
A Very Happy Brain
This is a short animation by Dr Snood on how Broody the very unhappy brain became happy again.