Mindfully building a resilient relationship to yourself – Three levels

Dear Integral Meditators,

Over the year I’ve observed that the better my relationship to myself, the more enjoyable my life is, and the more things start to fall in place naturally in their own time for me. The article below explores how to build a healthy relationship to yourself using mindfulness.

In the spirit of warmth,


Mindfully building a resilient relationship to yourself – Three levels

The aim of this type of mindfulness practice is to build, over time a positive mental/emotional habit of self-support in our mind. This structure enables your sense of self to remain healthy and robust under increasing levels of pressure that may come from within or without at different stages of your life. It begins with the observation that our most important relationship is to ourself, as we are the one that we spend 24hours a day with. Any strengths or deficiencies in this relationship tends to get projected onto our relationships with others in our professional and personal life. I have outlined the practice in three domains that are sequential but can be done as individual units of mindfulness at any time.

1) Observing your relationship to yourself – Begin by simply watching the way in which you experience yourself daily. What is the inner commentary going on in your mind, is it generally supportive or critical? How do you compare yourself to others, is it favourably and non-judgmentally, or often critical and ‘top-dog, underdog’ oriented? Before you try and ‘fix’ anything in your relationship to yourself, get to know it, be curious about it. Mindfully watch and learn with a degree of objectivity.

2) Practising non-harmfulness & acceptance – The second practice involves learning to sit with yourself non-critically, to not be ‘at war’ with yourself or undermine yourself in the energy that you extend to yourself. Here you are simply accepting yourself as you are and learning how not to extend harmful or negative thoughts, emotions or judgments to yourself. If you can’t do good, at least do no harm!

3) Extending warmth, empathy, support to self – The third practice involves actively extending warmth, support and care toward yourself, so that when you come under stress, your internal reaction is to encourage yourself, be non-judgmental, be caring, and to create inner dialogue that supports rather than undermines a healthy sense of self.

Making this into a practice, formally and informally

In terms of formal practice, let’s say you have a 20 minute period.

  • For the first 6-7 mins you would practice simply being aware of the way in which you experience your relationship to yourself as described in section one. Observing with curiosity and non-judgment, getting to know your patterns
  • For the next 6-7mins you would focus upon non-harmfulness and self-acceptance, perhaps as you breathe in extending non-harmfulness to yourself, breathing out relaxing into a space of self-acceptance.
  • For the final 6-7mins you would then concentrate upon extending the emotional energy of warmth, support and care toward yourself, trying to sustain this fundamentally healthy relationship to self as you breathe in and out.

So that’s one example of a flexible formal practice. Informally you can take any of these practices as objects of mindfulness when you go about your day. For example

  • Watching your inner dialogue with yourself as you work
  • Not allowing unnecessary and negative criticism of self when you make a mistake – extending non-harmfulness
  • When you feel discouraged, being mindful to extend care, support and empathy to yourself

All of this builds fundamental inner resilience, and makes our life a whole lot more fun!

If you want to explore how to then extend this practice into our relations with others, then you might consider reading my article: The energetic dynamics of love

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website www.tobyouvry.com

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