Self Compassion Meditation

When we're already struggling with a difficult feeling, or we're caught up in distressing thoughts, our first reaction can sometimes be to judge ourselves harshly for having these thoughts and feelings. In these painful moments, what we could really use is some kindness. Below are instructions and a brief audio meditation, adapted from compassion researcher Kristen Neff's self compassion break. This practice will help train our minds to start bringing kindness and compassion to ourselves in these painful moments.






Get settled into a seated position, upright, yet awake. Let your eyes close. Start by taking a deep breath in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Then allow your breath to return to it's natural rhythm.


Bring to mind a recent situation that felt difficult or painful, not picking anything traumatic or extremely painful, especially if you're new to practicing self compassion. Recall the situation, what was said, what happened, what you're worried about, how it felt or how it feels now to think about it.


Recite the following series of phrases to yourself silently with the above situation in mind. Feel free to play around with the wording so the language feels comfortable, and natural for you.


"This is really painful"..."This is hard"

  • Here we're just acknowledging that there's pain present, naming what is here.


"This is part of being human, pain is a part of life"

  • With this step we're recognizing that you're not alone, that this is part of the human experience

  • Other people feel this way too, you're not alone.


"I care about you, I'm sorry you're struggling right now"

  • This is the step where we bring in some compassion for ourselves, so again, play around with what phrasing feels right or what message you may need to hear right now

  • Sometimes it can be helpful to think of what you might say to a friend who was struggling with a similar situation.

  • It can be really helpful to gently place your hand on your heart here.


Notice how you're feeling now, notice what it's like to relate to your pain with kindness. Maybe you feel a tiny bit lighter, maybe this exercise was really difficult. With continued practice, kindness and compassion can become a more automatic response to pain. Thank yourself for showing up. Take a deep breath in and out. And when you're ready, go ahead and open your eyes.

Using this Practice on The Spot

As challenges come up through the day, it's not always doable to sit and meditate throughout the day. So when something uncomfortable comes up, and maybe you notice your mind starting to get judgmental towards yourself, you can still practice self compassion on the spot. Try just skipping to reciting the three phrases silently, it should only take a few moments.

  • "This is really painful"..."This is hard"

  • "This is part of being human, pain is a part of life"

  • "I care about you, I'm sorry you're struggling right now"

Learn More About Self Compassion

If you're interested in learning more about the research behind the benefits of self compassion, or want to find more ways of incorporating it into your day, I highly recommend checking out Kristen Neff's website; Like I said above, this practice is adapted from her self compassion break, which is a lovely practice which can be found here:

Give Your Inner Critic a Break.

There can be a lot of resistance to getting into self compassion practices at first, for so many reasons. For some of us, it's because it feels so foreign, for other's, we worry that if we practice self compassion, we may be letting ourselves off the hook too easily. If you notice some resistance popping, I encourage you to check this practice out as an experiment, and give your inner critic a break.