Kindness and Mental Health
Hello everyone! I'm really excited to be writing my first blog post in mental health awareness week. Mental health is something that's really important to me - it's the reason but I started meditation or maybe meditation started my connection with mental health, I can't quite be sure.
This year's theme for mental health awareness week is kindness and it's something that can often feel more comfortable to give to other people than ourselves. I actually feel that until we are kind to ourselves it's quite difficult and sometimes unnatural to be kind to other people so I wanted to write this blog post with some tips and tricks of things that we can do within meditation or general mindfulness to show some kindness to ourselves. Plus we all deserve a little love in my opinion!
One of the best things that we can do to be kind to ourselves is listen to what we need. That can be taking a rest when we need to rest, it can be you getting outside when we feel like we need to clear our head or it can be sitting down to meditate just to calm ourselves down. In Western society there is a lot of pressure to keep on doing things and we can often feel guilty when taking rest in whatever form and shape we need to. One of the hardest things for me about being chronically ill was (or is) allowing myself to rest without feeling guilty. It's not something that I can do every time is definitely a journey but trying to show myself that kindness and compassion is something that is super important to me.
There are specific meditation practices that do focus on kindness towards yourself and others and there is research to show that the area of your brain that generates compassionate feelings does actually increase in grey matter when these practices are done sustainably.
Probably the most famous practice for generating kindness is the loving kindness Buddhist meditation. This practice is where you repeat a series of sayings and direct them first to yourself, then to a loved one, then to a stranger or someone you see in your everyday life but don't know that well, then you can direct them towards someone you don't like, then finally you direct them to the world as a whole.
There are many different phrases that you can use for this practice, but the phrases that I like to use are:
May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be at peace
May I be free from suffering
I find this practice can be quite emotional especially when offering kindness to yourself as it's not something that we are ever taught to do growing up. We are often taught to put others before ourselves so it can feel quite overwhelming to give yourself that love that you deserve.
Give it a go and let me know how you get on!