After I wrote last week’s The Final Straw challenge on creating and cultivating an ‘outer’ practice,  I thought it might be a good idea to change up the format of our challenge this week and record a conversation that I had with Kristine Mackenzie Janson on ‘outer’ practice and how we might start moving towards Engaged Mindfulness. Kristine then offered a wonderful challenge for us all to take with us over the coming weeks…

Have a watch!

click here

Please find the practices that Kristine mentions in the challenge below:


Rick Hanson’s Taking in The Good

Rick Hanson teaches a practice that we often use on our courses called ‘Taking in The Good’. He explains that through the cultivation of the ‘felt sense’ of contentment and the soothing sensations of ‘feel good’ moments or by simply noticing and enjoying these moments, we can go from recognizing to actually integrating and absorbing joyful experiences. This, in turn, has the potential to actually change the physiology of the brain from one that is programmed to hold on to negative experiences, to one that identifies and rests in positive ones, instead.

He approaches this process in a three-fold way : “(1) take some time to notice a positive experience; (2) enrich this experience by appreciating it, not just drifting off into thinking; (3) then actively absorb the experience. So, for example, notice the spring blossom, stop and appreciate it, and allow yourself to take in its fragrant and delicate beauty. In this way, practice focusing on what feels right and good on a moment-by-moment basis”.

Self-Compassion Break

Put your hand(s) on your heart, or hug yourself

Breathe deeply in and out

Speak kindly to yourself, really letting yourself experience what is behind the words:

  • This is a moment of difficulty
  • Difficulties are part of everybody’s life
  • May I respond with kindness

These three phrases can be seen as a self-compassion mantra, a set of memorized phrases that are repeated silently whenever you want to give yourself compassion. They are most useful in the heat of the moment, whenever strong feelings of distress arise. You might find these phrases work for you, but it’s worth playing with them to see if you can find the wording that works best for you. What’s important is that all three aspects of self-compassion are evoked, not the particular words used.

The first phrase, “This is a moment of difficulty” (or suffering) is designed to bring mindfulness to the fact that you’re in pain. Other possible wordings for this phrase are: “I’m having a really hard time right now,” “This is really difficult,” “It’s painful for me to feel this now,” etc.

The second phrase, “Difficulties are part of everybody’s life” is designed to remind you that imperfection is part of the shared human experience. Other possible wordings are: “Everyone feels this way sometimes,” “A lot of other people probably feel the same way,” etc.

The third phrase “May I respond with kindness” is designed to help bring a sense of caring concern to your present moment experience. Other possible wordings are: “I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time,” “Poor thing, it will be alright,” “Know that I’m here for you and care about you,” etc. This final phrase firmly sets your intention to be self-compassionate. Other possible wordings are “I am worthy of receiving self-compassion,” “I need to give myself compassionate care”.

If you would like to know more about Kristine and Fay’s Engaged Mindfulness course, please click here.

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