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PodcastExploring Self-Compassion, with Dr. Kristin Neff

Exploring Self-Compassion, with Dr. Kristin Neff

Self-compassion expert Dr. Kristin Neff is guest hosting this week on Radio Headspace. Today she introduces self-compassion, discussing its importance, types, and how it enriches relationships and life, on this Monday's Radio Headspace episode.

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(cursor clicks) (bright music) Headspace Studios. (light music) Hi, I'm Dr. Kristin Neff. Welcome to Radio Headspace and to Monday morning. I'm guest hosting Radio Headspace this week, and it's so wonderful to be here with you all. I am an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and I am also a self-compassion researcher and author. So today, I'm gonna be talking about what self-compassion is, the various ingredients that make it up, and also the two main expressions of self-compassion, both the tender and the fierce. So I first learned about self-compassion in my last year of graduate school at UC Berkeley, and I was going through a really hard time. I was feeling a lot of stress about, you know, would I ever get a job with this PhD I just got? And so I thought I learned mindfulness meditation as a way to help me deal with my stress. And I was so surprised when I went to this mindfulness course. The woman leading the course, the first thing she talked about actually was not about how to meditate, but how to be kinder to yourself, about how important it was to give ourselves compassion as well as other people compassion. So that night, I went home and I tried it. Well, before I figured out how to meditate, I just started saying things like, "Hey, Kristin, you know, this is really hard. It's a really stressful time. You'll get through it. I'm here for you." And I was so amazed at the immediate difference it made in my ability to cope. And that's really how I came to devote my life to researching and teaching about self-compassion. The easiest way to think about what self-compassion is is treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and attention that you would show naturally to a friend that you cared about. So self-compassion is really the practice of cultivating that friendliness and support to ourselves. So what I've found over the years in my research is that there are really two main expressions of self-compassion: the fierce and the tender. And so tender self-compassion is really about giving ourselves unconditional acceptance. It's kind of like, you know, a mother who might unconditionally love and support her crying child. So we hold ourselves and we hold our difficult emotions with the tenderness of a mother, and eventually we start to calm down and we actually start to heal. Actually, you might even just try this. Try putting both hands on your heart tenderly over your heart center. Feel the warmth and gentleness of your hands, right? And just imagine that you're holding yourself. You're holding yourself tenderly. You're giving yourself some kindness and warmth. Maybe you're feeling some difficult emotions. You're holding those emotions tenderly. The three components of self-compassion in their tender form feel like loving, connected presence, right? So sometimes we just need some loving, connected presence. But compassion is not just about acceptance, right?...


Duration6 min

About your teachers

  • A former Buddhist monk, Andy has guided people in meditation and mindfulness for 20 years. In his mission to make these practices accessible to all, he co-created the Headspace app in 2010.

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  • Eve is a mindfulness teacher, overseeing Headspace’s meditation curriculum. She is passionate about sharing meditation to help others feel less stressed and experience more compassion in their lives.

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  • As a meditation teacher, Dora encourages others to live, breathe, and be with the fullness of their experiences. She loves meditation’s power to create community and bring clarity to people’s minds.

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  • Kessonga has been an acupuncturists, therapist, and meditation teacher, working to bring mindfulness to the diverse populations of the world.

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  • Rosie Acosta has studied yoga and mindfulness for more than 20 years and taught for over a decade. Rosie’s mission is to help others overcome adversity and experience radical love.

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