Week 6: The Self-Critical Voice and Scaffolding Your Practice
In the last week of this course, we examine the impact of mindfulness on the self-critical voice and consider how to keep motivated to practice in the weeks and months ahead.
In a recent article, "Living With, and Loving, Your Imperfect Life", Mark Bertin explains that "The Inner Critic is a particularly draining mental pattern. Like a playground tyrant, it’s an unrelenting heckler. It insults and judges mostly without reason—You’re not good enough. You should have done X or Y but definitely not Z again. Why do you bother? You’ll never get it right.”
“That voice is not about improvement, making amends, or fixing what needs fixing—ideas we want to build upon. The Inner Critic embodies mindless self-judgment that undermines our confidence, and, ultimately, our well-being, and affects all of our interactions with the world.”
“When we recognize the Inner Critic as nothing more than an entrenched mental habit, we shift our relationship with it. Instead of trying to pacify this voice, we label it and create some distance. Thanks anyway. That’s judgment, and I’m not wrestling with you today. Instead of believing its nagging opinions, we pause, nod at our personal heckler with a smile, and come back to our senses once again."
The practice of meditation can help us to recognise when the inner critical arises and to create space to allow ourselves to label the voice and gain distance, seeing it as simply an entrenched mental habit and not as a collection of facts about ourselves.
If you would like to read the rest of Mark Bertin’s article, simply click here.
To maintain your mindfulness practice in the weeks ahead, you may want to consider the following questions:
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
Which practices have you enjoyed?
Which have proven more tricky and why?
Have you been able to bring some mindfulness into your daily routine and how might you be able to maintain that in a way that works for you?
Have you experienced any benefits that encourage you to continue?
Reflecting on these questions will help you to tailor your own mindfulness practice in way that works for you. At some point, you can expect to hit a brick wall, fall by the wayside, feel that you don’t have time to meditate, or that you’re just not ‘cut out for it.’ At these moments, when you struggle to continue, rather than viewing it as a sign that you should give up, try taking a self-compassionate attitude and consider what you need to do to get your practice back on track, rather than abandon it altogether. Reflect on the benefits you have reaped and how you can seek to maintain your mindfulness in a way that works for you.
To find out more about mindfulness and its impact on the self-critical voice as well as ideas on how to scaffold your practice, click the article and audio links below in this week’s Mindfulness Plus. There’s also a short piece this week on mindful listening.
And finally, thank you for joining the Daisy Garland Mindfulness sessions and thank you to Sara for inviting me to be your guide. I hope these sessions will encourage you to keep going and seek out moments of mindfulness wherever you are.
With best wishes,
Audio: The Chocolate Meditation by Mark Williams: https://soundcloud.com/hachetteaudiouk/the-chocolate-meditation
Audio: The Mountain Meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn: https://soundcloud.com/search?q=Mountain%20meditation
Article: 10 Mindfulness Tips for Every Day by Keith Fiveson: https://www.mindful.org/10-mindfulness-tips-for-every-day/
Article: How to Really Listen by David Rone: https://www.mindful.org/tuning-in/
This Week's Poem: You Reading This Be Ready by William Stafford
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life -
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?
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