Self-compassion break

This is a meditation for us to use at times when we are having a difficult experience. It may be that something difficult has happened in our external world, or it may be that our internal world feels distressed in some way. In this practice we pause in whatever we are doing, and bring our focus to how we are feeling, noticing emotions, thoughts and body sensations; we  remind ourselves that we are not alone in this experience and we bring kindness to ourselves.

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We use a tender voice towards ourselves, internally or out loud, and if it helps use kind physical touch (e.g. stroke hand). Change the wording below if other phrases work better for you.

We follow three steps:

1. Acknowledge your difficulty by naming it to yourself. Be fully aware of your experience and how you are feeling. Use phrase such as:

“This is a moment of difficulty” or

“I am having a really hard time right now”

2. Become aware of being a part of common humanity with similar difficulties. Many other people are having similar experiences. Sense your compassion for other’s hardship as well as your own.  Use a phrase such as:

“Many other people are having similar experiences at this time” or

“Difficulties are part of everybody’s life”

3. Bring compassion, kindness and nurturing to your present moment experience. Use a phrase such as:

“May I be kind to myself in this moment”


We can then ask “what do I need right now?”   We can choose to do something kind for ourselves such as make ourselves a cup of tea, go outside and pay attention to the flowers/trees/sky, go for a walk, put on some uplifting music etc. We may like to imagine we are giving ourselves the love, tenderness and compassion we would give as a loving parent to a hurt child. If it helps we can imagine receiving such care from someone who for us embodies unconditional love and compassion, or from any other source (e.g. the sun, a pet). Even just a few moments of caring for ourselves in the ‘here and now’, can help us feel calmer and better resourced to deal with our difficulty. Being kind to ourselves may involve taking some action, which will be more effective if we have grounded ourselves.

Generally, we are not used to showing ourselves kindness and compassion. By practicing this self-compassion break, we can start to build up a gentler, more understanding way of being with ourselves, learn how to be with difficulties, and help build resilience for challenging times.

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