Category Archives: Compassion

self compassion does not mean playing it safe

Self Compassion Does Not Mean Playing It Safe

Most of us have high standards for ourselves. Whether wanting to gain recognition, feel like we belong, or achieve our goals, we can easily fall short of our ideal and in the process judge ourselves as being not good enough. Practiced over a lifetime, this striving for perfection hardens into self-judgment, unworthiness and low self-image. For the vast majority of people who come to meditation retreats this habit of self-criticism is a central issue. As someone who knows this problem first-hand I can attest to its debilitating power. When I was growing up I had a hard time just looking in the mirror. I wasn't cool. I was shy. I wasn’t buff. I was "pudgy cute." Though we didn't have a …

wired for compassion

Wired For Compassion

As research on compassion meditation has shown, when we see someone suffering our natural response is to want to help. Awakening Joy speaker Rick Hanson, ( and author of Hardwiring Happiness, speaks about the physiological basis for compassion. Rick defines empathy as feeling and understanding how it is for another person. This means stepping outside of your own, limited view to see through another’s eyes or stand in his or her shoes. Mirror neurons activate empathy upon seeing what others are going through. There are two specific areas in the brain that are the seat of empathic response: the insula and the cingulate cortex. These are involved when we see—or even just imagine—other people suffering. Our brain automatically generates a …