Compassion is a process that unfolds in response to suffering. It begins with the recognition of suffering, which gives rise to thoughts and feelings of empathy and concern. This, in turn, motivates action to relieve that suffering. Humans have a natural capacity for compassion. However, everyday stress, social pressures and life experiences can make it difficult to fully express this capacity. Each of us can choose to nurture and grow the compassionate instinct, like a plant that is carefully cultivated from a seed. This process requires patience, steady care, proper tools, and a supportive environment.
Practising self-compassion involves treating our own suffering with kindness and understanding. It entails becoming aware of the times when we are experiencing difficulties, and extending the same care and concern towards ourselves that we would to a close friend. Self-compassion is not the same as self-indulgence or self-pity: it involves taking a mindful approach towards our flaws, failures, and struggles and supporting ourselves to deal with difficulties in an authentic and balanced way.
Mindfulness is an integral component of developing compassion for ourselves or others. Developing mindfulness involves becoming more aware of our moment-by-moment experiences, and responding to them in a balanced and non-judgemental manner. With mindfulness we are able to pause and choose our responses, so that we act in line with our goals, values, and intentions.