“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience” – Jon Kabat Zinn
Sometimes we criticize ourselves for the thoughts and emotions that are arising, especially in times of stress or when more is being asked of us. Anxiety is a natural response to perceived threat and yet it can also get in the way of wise action. Sometimes our internal response, the ways in which we speak to ourselves about our natural feelings, can further escalate things internally in a way that is not helpful. The practice of mindfulness has been shown to regulate the nervous system, encouraging a mind-state from which clarity and wiser action may spring.
Set a timer for yourself. It doesn’t matter if it is 1 minute or 20. Make yourself comfortable and watch what is arising in the present moment. See if you can bring an attitude of “befriending” to whatever comes. Without judgement, become aware of sensations and thoughts as they naturally flow past your awareness. Try to avoid hopping on a train of thought or emotion. Instead, as thoughts come, place your focus on cultivating a feeling tone of friendliness. If you notice yourself evaluating or critiquing your experience, you might say to yourself, “Befriending.”
We all deserve this offering of self-compassion. It won’t help anything if we make ourselves feel badly about our feelings as they are arising naturally.