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SNN Cares: Applying Mindfulness & Self-Compassion In Our Daily Lives

"Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we give to others" Christopher Germer

On Wednesday, 27 April, an intentionally small group gathered over zoom to learn about self-compassion and mindfulness. The evening began with introductions from the Inspire2Aspire core team, Mahesh “Happy” Pamnani, Honey Pamnani, and Joy Pamnani, who specialize in emotional and wellness workshops based on Positive Psychology. They have engaged many NGOs, corporations, universities, and institutions in Hong Kong, sharing the goal of bringing greater/deeper happiness to Hong Kong, grounding emotions through mindfulness, and compassionate communication with self and others. What was typically an 18-hour course was condensed into 90 minutes with key skills in helping parents going through the stress of special needs care.

With many diverse yet integrated insights, Happy masterfully facilitated an encouraging and uplifting session with many points of practice and relevant exercises. “Self-compassion has to be learned through observation”, said Happy, “and must be embodied well, inquired upon, as this is the science of flourishing.” In order to engage happiness for those processing through daily suffering, there must be a safe space to share about our journeys and challenges with special needs. Happy led our group through several useful exercises of emotional grounding, centering, and self-compassion.

Some of my favorites were that of self-soothing through touch and positive self-talk through affirmations. These were often simple scripts but powerful ones that shift perspective and attitude. The perspective-taking led by Happy actually brought us closer to ourselves by engaging the inner voices that needed deep validation.

Also relevant were practices to de-escalate our intensifying emotions, bringing us back to the purity of curiosity and paying attention to ourselves in particular ways on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment and with self-compassion. Along with that were ways to combat self-criticism with self-kindness and intentional “compassion breaks”, breathing exercises, and progressive affirmative relaxation techniques, while distancing ourselves from the escalating emotions (“I am not sad, though sadness is ‘on’ me”).

Another very helpful practice was repeating to ourselves and others statements such as, “May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be at peace, may you be free from suffering…”, grounding ourselves in peace and happiness, and being more self-compassionate. As Happy stated, “An escalated adult cannot deescalate a child”, and we must “put on our seat belts prior to helping others put on theirs”.

Towards the end of this Webinar, Happy offered a conceptual framework for stages of acceptance, which processes through “exploring”, “tolerating”, “allowing”, and “befriending”, and encouraged us to “soften” and “soothe” through the taming of our “monkey minds” in order to calm and focus ourselves.

Happy recommended reading the book Self Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind by Kristin Neff, Ph.D.

Thank you, Happy, Honey, and Joy for sharing with us your insights, experiences, and happiness!

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