Affectionate Breathing

By: Kristin Neff

Self-Compassion and Affectionate Breathing

If you’re at all familiar with Buddhism or Buddhist meditation, you likely know what an important role the virtue of compassion plays. Of course, there are differences between different schools and branches of Buddhism when it comes to compassion. For example, Mahayana Buddhism places a particular focus on the importance of actively practicing compassion for others rather than retreating into a state of enlightened detachment from the world around us.

Regardless of what school or branch we’re talking about, though, we often associate Buddhist meditation with an attempt to develop greater compassion for the suffering of those around us. It’s less typical, though, to hear people in meditation and mindfulness circles talking about the role of self-compassion in a mindfulness practice.

 

The Importance of Self-Compassion 

Kristin Neff is an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin. As part of journey deep into the truths of Buddhism, Kristin is particularly focused on the role of self-compassion as part of a mindfulness and meditation practice. While the importance of self-compassion is of course mentioned in various Buddhist texts, Kristin was the first Western researcher to explore the importance of self-compassion from a psychology standpoint as part of her empirical research.

In this twenty minute guided meditation, Kristin will help you explore the concept of affectionate breathing. By this, she means connecting feelings of affection and kindness with the act of slow, deep, mindful breathing. We tend to take the ordinary, routine functioning of our body for granted. But, when we pause to consider how miraculous it is that we’re here, breathing and vibrantly alive, it’s easy to feel kindness and affection for ourselves and for those around us. We hope you enjoy this self-compassion mindfulness exercise: please feel free to pass it along to friends and family.

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