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An autoethnography of cultivating mindful self-compassion

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posted on 2023-08-30, 17:16 authored by Mary C. Younger
This research explores self-compassion and how it contributes to wellbeing. Research indicates that self-compassion improves life-satisfaction, reduces inner-judgement, counters burnout, strengthens resilience and motivation for self-care. The aim is to investigate the process of cultivating self-compassion through engaging in Neff’s theory of self-compassion. I wanted to develop practice, identify barriers and any transformative aspects of self-compassion to understand how they could benefit me personally and professionally as a psychologist. There is an absence of personal stories from psychologists concerning their experience of occupational hazards, burnout and managing self-care. My research draws from a Buddhist perspective and is located within a Buddhist Practical Theological paradigm. The research was conducted over one-year taking an inductive, first-person approach combining the methods of autoethnography, journaling, contemplative practice and critical reflection. Autoethnographic methods were used to gather, analyse and interpret self-reflective material. My research revealed how developing self-compassion reduced my inner-critic, sense of loss, fear, depression and anxiety. It provided healing, acceptance, inner strength, resilience and integration; personally, relationally and in social and environmental activism. Professionally, self-compassion enhanced therapeutic presence and practice. Researching self-compassion alongside Buddhist practical theology enriched my Buddhist practice and reinforced the relevance of Buddhist praxis to contemporary issues. This research shows the power of story to deepen self-understanding, gain new insight, re-story a life and challenge dominant discourses. The methodological approach taken provides a valuable model for contemplative practice and research. The research contributes to existing self-compassion research through elucidating the process from a first-person perspective and has contributed to the field of Buddhist practical theology. The capacity of contemplative practice to nourish and integrate valued areas of life was also discovered. As a result of my findings I commend Mindful Self-compassion personally and propose that it becomes integral to professional training for psychologists and healthcare professionals.



Anglia Ruskin University

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