Dr. Willoughby Britton explores compassion toward the self.

Dr. Willoughby Britton led the group a in step-by-step meditation to cultivate compassion and forgiveness towards ourselves, something most people find near-impossible to do.

Dr. Willougby Britton

Dr. Willougby Britton (right) discusses generating compassion and forgiveness toward ourselves.

She discussed how unnecessary suffering comes from judging ourselves in many forms: comparing ourselves to others, not allowing ourselves to have certain emotions, holding ourselves to extremely high standards, and expecting perfection. These habits are so ingrained, we are stunned to discover how pervasive they are.

Dr. Willoughby suggested that as we go through our day, we can experiment with breath awareness together with the following phrases:

I allow myself to be imperfect

I allow myself to make mistakes

I allow myself to be a learner in life

I forgive myself

May I be free

You can select just one phrase to repeat over and over, or make up another one, as long as it embodies the spirit of friendliness towards yourself. Repeating the phrases may seem dry and meaningless at times, this is normal. But you may be pleasantly surprised to see what happens when you are saying them AND make a mistake.

Dr. Britton is a clinical psychologist and clinical research scientist at Brown University Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior.

She recently completed a 3-year NIH-funded clinical trial on the neurophysiological effects of mindfulness meditation in depression, and continues to examine the link between sleep, affective disturbance and emotional regulation strategies.  She is currently on the Steering Committee of Brown’s Contemplative Studies Initiative and is a clinical and research mentor to Scholarly Concentrators in Contemplative Studies. . She developed Cheetah House to serve a central hub to integrate contemplative practice, research, community and social engagement.

Our thanks to Dr. Britton for sharing an evening of self-compassion with us. We wish her well in her important work.


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