Personal Reflections on Using a Self Compassion Break During COVID-19 Unsettledness

By Zoey Ryan

Struggling to maintain a sense of personal calm and emotional balance during the recent global events related to COVID- 19, I have been relying on the practices I have learned and have taught through the ‘Mindful Self Compassion Program’, co-developed by Kristin Neff PhD and Christopher Germer PhD.

Recently Chris wrote a wonderful article/blog entitled “10 Self Compassion Practices for COVID-19” .

The first practice outlined in this article, the ‘Self-Compassion Break’ has been one that I use daily.

Prior to this though and as a participant in the Mindful Self Compassion Program a few years ago, I had an ‘aha’ moment when pondering the concept of “Common Humanity”, the idea that with personal suffering or struggle, there are likely many others around the world experiencing something similar.

This ‘aha’ moment or gateway moved me into a softer and more expansive ability to personally practice two additional key concepts of “Mindfulness” and “Self Compassion”. With COVID-19 bringing a daily reminder of our ‘shared humanity’, my practice of a ‘Self Compassion Break’ has become an anchor in a life filled with uncontrollable sad news and change while living in a multi-generational family home.

Here is how I use the Self Compassion Break during COVID-19:

  • I acknowledge when I am feeling unsettled, worried, perhaps overwhelmed (this is Mindfulness).
  • If possible, I find a quiet place where I can spend a few moments peacefully sitting or lying down and often I close my eyes.
  • Saying to myself, Ah, this is a moment of struggle (or stress, or ‘this feels really tough right now’ etc), I offer myself some kind words, (this is Self-Compassion).
  • While speaking kindly to myself, I may be holding my face in my hands or resting my hand on my heart or perhaps softly stoking my arm, offering myself some gestures of kindness.
  • I then say something like ‘I imagine many many other people in the world right now are feeling something very similar’ and I ‘offer’ them good wishes of kindness and health (this is Common Humanity).

While I am not out in public very often these days, even then (maintaining ‘Physical Distancing’), one could do a quick version of a ‘Self Compassion Break’ in a line up at a store for example, simply cupping your hands in front and speaking silently to yourself.

Using the ‘Self Compassion Break’ has a gentle, positive settling effect for me and I encourage you to try it, especially during these unsettled times with COVID-19.

For more information about the ‘Self Compassion Break’, Chris and Kristin have published ‘The Mindful Self Compassion Workbook’, which is available through Amazon and which contains a variety of additional guided meditations and practices.

Also, my fellow teacher, Dr. Georgina Robinson PhD and I are excited to be sharing the full 8 Week Mindful Self Compassion Program On-Line via ZOOM, staring April 15, 2020 in which we will offer the ‘Self Compassions Break’ as one of the core practices. Please feel free to contact us or check out the 8 Week Mindful Self Compassion Page for more information and a full Registration Package.

Author: zoey