Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion (Self-help Book)

Being compassionate means that we recognize when someone is in pain, we abandon our fear of or resistance to it, and a natural feeling of love and kindness flows toward the suffering individual.
We start [being self-compassionate] by befriending who we are today, no matter how fumbling, incomplete, or clueless we are. Full acceptance of ourselves, moment to moment, makes it easier to adapt and change in the direction we’d like to go.

Compassion and self-compassion are topics that have gained popularity in recent years. In a society where depression and anxiety have become almost epidemic, self-compassion is a much needed skill. The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion by Christopher K. Germer is a helpful, well-written, and very user friendly book. It contains principles that the reader can immediately begin to put into practice, yet it so full of good content that many readers will want to come back to it again and again.

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion discusses three major tools: acceptance, mindfulness, and Metta. Acceptance involves befriending ourselves in the moment. Mindfulness involves being fully present in the moment. Metta is a type of prayer/meditation that invokes loving-kindness.

The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion contains good activities and plenty of examples. It also includes information — nicely set off from the main text—about research in the area of self-compassion. What I especially like about the book is that it recognizes that we are not all the same. Germer includes suggestions for different personalities. He also offers alternatives for different activities. For example, many meditation instructions use the breath as a way to anchor a person’s awareness. Unfortunately this doesn’t always work for me; I sometimes begin to hyperventilate. Germer includes additional anchors the user can try.

I have read The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion once, but feel that I have only scratched the surface on the information. What I found interesting is that I began to feel more compassionate toward other people after finishing the book. The skills involved in self-compassion also affect how we interact with the world.

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