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Introducing “The Connection Mindset”
Including Opportunities to Practice Self-Compassion
Worldview Coaching is pleased to announce the imminent release of our first ebook, The Connection Mindset: 10 Practices for More Meaningful Relationships. This book addresses our present-day need for social reconnection, and practical things we can do on a daily basis to improve our relations with others. Insights are drawn from an understanding of self-compassion and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s 9 Attitudes of Mindfulness, and applied to everyday social situations. Readers are encouraged to contemplate these insights and how they can practice them in their lives to grow their own Connection Mindset. Each chapter concludes with a short discussion of how these practices can be enhanced through more formal mindfulness training, i.e., meditation. The following short excerpt features one such section from The Connection Mindset, titled “Self-compassion on the Cushion”.
Meditation is a microcosm of our world. As such, it is an opportunity to train our mind without the distractions of our modern life. We turn off the television and ignore the internet. We bid adieu for a brief while to our near and dear in order to bring attention to our mind. What is our mind doing? Is it on our meditation object? (For example, if we are meditating on the breath, is it following the breath, or is our mind thinking other things? Or is it doing some combination thereof?)
Self-compassion aids this process by recognizing that our human minds are busy minds. In fact, a study a few years back measured that our minds are distracted about 47% of the time.1 That is almost half of our day! This is most apparent when practicing sitting meditation and can be a source of endless frustration to the meditator.
But it doesn’t have to be. When we sit, we can simply notice our wandering mind without judgment and bring it back to our object of meditation. This noticing, when seen in the light of this study, reinforces our understanding of common humanity. Being human, we are not separate from human struggles, even those we encounter on the meditation cushion! Therefore, each struggle we face on the cushion, from distraction to boredom to impatience to physical pain, is not unique to us, but is common to all. Therefore, it is pointless to berate ourselves for experiencing these things. They indicate not our own personal failures in meditation, but experiences every meditator faces at one point or another. Therefore, the challenges that meditation provides our minds are all wonderful opportunities to exercise self-compassion.
As we grow our practice of self-compassion, we can extend it to others. After all, if we are human and prone to err and misfortune, are not others? And if we deserve unconditional love and kindness, they do too. To help further our practice of compassion and to extend it to others, we can engage in lovingkindness meditation (LKM). As researcher Dr. Barbara Fredrickson has noted, LKM has been shown to increase positive emotions, including love, joy, amusement, contentment, gratitude, and awe, to name a few.2 As a result, people who practiced LKM felt a greater sense of life satisfaction. Furthermore, engaging in it can soften the voice of our Inner Critic, allowing us to be more caring to ourselves and to transform our relations with others.
There are many variations of the LKM. Here is one version you may be willing to try, led by Dr. Kristin Neff. As you may recall, her work has helped bridge scientific study with practical application of compassion. If her 21-minute meditation is too long to fit into your day, here is a shorter one at 5 minutes. Whichever you choose (or not choose), may your choice bring happiness to you!
Coming up in the second half of July, we’ll have our first Let’s Talk!, a wonderful (and free!) opportunity to discuss how we can bring more self-compassion into our lives. Through powerful questioning, you will be encouraged to investigate what is holding you back from allowing compassion to benefit you and others more. Inspired by insights from the group conversation, you will take away your own personal plan to incorporate self-compassion more effectively in your life. This Zoom event is open to all readers of MM, with a link to be included in an upcoming issue. Here’s hoping you can join us!
There is a wonderful 10 minute TED Talk led by the lead researcher of this study, Dr. Matt Killingsworth.