3 Compassion Practices for Connection
By: Sonja Favaloro, Mindfulness-Based Therapist in Training, Certified Psychosynthesis Life Coach
It’s normal to feel alone when you are caught in a web of negative feelings and thoughts. Loneliness is commonly exacerbated when you feel or think that you are the only one who is experiencing it.
Self-compassion is a satiating cure for loneliness. Keep reading to find out how to practice it. . .
- Re-Member to Reconnect
Self-compassion basically means sending a feeling of kindness and care to ourselves. Part of self-compassion practice is to “re-member” our interconnectedness to others. We can do this by reminding ourselves:
- of the ways other people are feeling, and have felt, the same way you are feeling now.
- This emotion is a normal part of human life.
- There’s nothing wrong with me, and I’m not alone.
Dr. Kristen Neff, a leading researcher in the self-compassion field, has shown that practicing self-compassion can decrease feelings of loneliness and increase feelings of connectedness. It can also expand our capacity to feel kindness towards ourselves and others.
2. Metta Meditation
An effective way to practice self-compassion is to use the structure of Metta meditation practice taken from Buddhism. This form of meditation starts with offering yourself compassion, and then slowly extending that feeling of compassion outward by:
- Offering compassion to someone you love,
- Then to someone you feel neutral towards
- Then to someone you have difficult feelings towards, and
- Eventually to everyone in the world. This practice allows us to literally practice cultivating feelings of kindness and care for ourselves and then for others, and reminds us that the feeling of compassion is the same, no matter whom we are directing it towards.
3. Use Metta Mantras
Metta is a word that means positive energy and kindness towards. To use metta mantras start by settling into a comfortable seat and taking a few deep breaths.
- Start by saying these phrases to yourself, in your head or out loud:
May I be happy
May I be safe
May I live free from suffering
May I be at peace.
- Then repeat these phrases for a person you love, such as:
“May ___(person)__ be happy, May s/he/they be safe . . . .
- Then direct the same phrases towards a person you feel neutral about.
- Next, direct the same phrases towards a person you slightly dislike.
- Finally, try sending these compassionate feelings out to all people.
Get curious about your experience during this meditation practice! Notice if you feel any opening or warmth, and notice if you feel any resistance. All are normal parts of the process.
Now that you’ve tried it out for yourself, read on to discover two main ways that self-compassion combats loneliness and increases connection.
Want to learn more about self-compassion and ways to cure loneliness?
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As a holistic mental health therapist, I see you as a whole person — your mental health challenges are not all that define you. You also have unique strengths, forms of resilience, and inner wisdom. I look forward to working with you to uncover and develop that inner strength and wisdom, as a means of both healing existing pain and creating new pathways towards the life you want. As a graduate student of Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Naropa University, I offer a combination of mindfulness-based techniques and traditional psychotherapy that help you connect with your body, calm your nervous system, and feel grounded.