Criticism is a powerful tool in the mind, but the problem is that we give power to these judgments and criticisms that we’ve created in our mind.
By befriending your self-judgement, you can bring it back to its rightful place. With mindfulness, you can bring your awareness to the feelings that arise from these thoughts, and offer kindness to yourself for what you have created.
In the practice, you will bring awareness to the judgment and criticism and observe how it feels in the body.
Close the eyes and bring awareness to the body. Notice how it feels to be sitting. How does it feel to breathe? You can bring attention to the breath, or just allow the body to be in this moment and experience sensations.
After a few moments of experiencing the body, bring your awareness to the mind. You might find that when you focus on the mind, thoughts and emotions arise.
Bring your attention to the judgments you’re making about yourself, asking, “What am I thinking about myself?” Just notice the thoughts that arise.
When you notice an emotion or a thought, simply observe the energy of the thought or emotion without getting caught up in the story.
Ask yourself, “What do I think about myself when I judge myself?” “What emotions come with this thought?”
If you are judging yourself harshly, and notice that this is true, acknowledge the fact.
Then ask yourself, “How do I feel when I judge myself?”
Notice the energy of the feeling that arises, and the intention behind it.
If you notice that you judge yourself, the next step is to invite kindness.
Bring your attention to the judgment and ask, “Who is judging me?”
“How would it feel to be with kindness and compassion toward myself?”
Ask yourself, “What does this mean to me?”
What does this mean to me? What does it feel like in my body?
As you practice this, you can begin to notice how the mind reacts when you offer kindness to yourself. You will see that the mind will become calmer and more relaxed.
Try practicing this for a few days, noticing how it makes a difference in your mind.
Self-criticism and self-judgment are common occurrences, and they can be powerful tools to improve your life. They can offer motivation, but also create unnecessary suffering.
When you look at yourself critically, you see yourself as separate from others and your surroundings. Self-criticism can seem like the only way to live, but when you are aware of the thoughts and feelings behind self-criticism, you can befriend them. You can learn to relate to them as part of the same mind, just as you do with your breathing.
Close the eyes and notice your posture.
Bring awareness to the sensations of the body.
Let go of any discomfort or tension.
You can begin by bringing to mind a moment when you had self-critical thoughts or feelings. What was your experience like? Did you judge yourself or criticize yourself?
If you did, it’s important to identify with that experience. You are the observer. You were observing this thought or feeling and it was taking place. It didn’t happen to you, and it isn’t your fault.
Focus on your observation and allow yourself to befriend the thoughts and feelings that arise. What is their purpose? What are they trying to teach you?
Begin offering a sentence to the thoughts and feelings, like this: I welcome these thoughts and feelings as if they are all part of myself. As if they are me. I welcome all of my thoughts and feelings as if they are me.
Befriending your thoughts and feelings requires patience, so use this time to focus on your breath, noticing how it feels in your body. You may notice how it’s inhaled, held, and exhaled.
When you are ready, open your eyes.
Self-criticism is a familiar experience. Whether you notice it, you’re judging yourself. But you don’t have to engage in this negative experience.
With mindfulness, you can see it coming and disengage.
Your self-criticism can be difficult to notice. It’s often a hidden voice that pops up when you least expect it. It can cause you to feel bad, and it can seem like a constant struggle.
The antidote is to befriend your self-criticism. You can notice it coming, and you can decide to disengage. As you do this, you will feel more relaxed and peaceful.
Mindfulness practice will help you see that your inner critic isn’t separate from you, and you can choose to disengage from it.
Set an intention to disengage from the critical voice. You can use your breath as a reminder.
Start by noticing your mind as it wanders into self-criticism. You might hear phrases that are judgmental or critical. When you notice this, bring your attention back to the breath. You can even say to yourself, “I’m thinking again.”
Repeat this process over and over until you can notice your thoughts drifting away from you. Keep practicing this process over and over. Your mind will get more focused as you develop mindfulness.
You can also notice how quickly the critical voice comes. With each inhalation and exhalation, the voice becomes stronger and louder. This means that you are engaging with the critical voice, and you are fueling it. You are feeding it and encouraging it to grow.
As soon as you become aware of this, you can choose to disengage from the critical voice. You can let it know that you’re aware of it. You can also ask it to leave and allow space for gentleness.
You can offer phrases like these: I notice that I’m thinking again. I’m aware of my thoughts. I can choose to disengage from them. I’m choosing to be kind to myself. I’m choosing to be gentle.
Ask yourself, what would happen if you weren’t listening to the critical voice? What would happen if you chose to be kind and understanding?
Close the eyes and find a comfortable meditation posture. Focus on the sensation of the body breathing. Notice any sensations in the body. Breathing is often felt as a movement in the chest.
Allow the mind to settle, and then notice the breath. As you breathe in, notice any sensation in the body.
Bring your awareness to the breath as many times as necessary. Once you are noticing the breath, bring to mind the critical voice.
Say to the critical voice, “Please, can you leave and allow space for gentleness and kindness?” Let this voice know that you’re aware of it.
You may experience a pause or a brief quiet. This is your choice.
Continue to offer phrases of kindness and compassion, allowing the mind to settle and focus. When you’ve completed the phrases, return to your breath, noticing the breath as many times as necessary.
Continue to breathe slowly and deeply for a few minutes, and when you’re ready, open your eyes.
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