Last week I discussed the importance of cultivating lovingkindness on the path to mindful and intuitive eating. And now, even the mainstream media is taking notice of this truth. As discussed in a New York Times article last year, lovingkindness, or “self-compassion,” is essential for health. Understating its importance, the article’s author declares that “self-compassion can even influence how much we eat and may help some people lose weight.”
She also recognizes that self-compassion clashes with the notion that those who struggle with weight lack willpower and self-discipline. (The idea that self-discipline is of much use in overcoming deeply-rooted eating struggles is so wrong that I emphasize it repeatedly in The Mindfulness Diet program.)
Self-compassion researcher Kristen Neff suggests that many people don’t love themselves because they’re afraid they’ll become too indulgent. But Neff thinks the opposite is true: “Self-compassion is really conducive to motivation…. With self-compassion, if you care about yourself, you do what’s healthy for you rather than what’s harmful to you.”
Concepts such as self-compassion may seem nebulous. And just how are we to nurture that quality within ourselves? Fortunately, the mindfulness tradition offers concrete and proven practices like lovingkindness meditation, which can help us to cultivate a positive sense of love, regard, and compassion for ourselves. From that place of love and compassion, we can heal ourselves, and our eating, from within.