An excerpt from Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction 
by Linda Lehrhaupt, PhD, and Petra Meibert, Dipl. Pscyh

At the beginning of our institute’s nine-month mindfulness trainings, we ask people to write down their personal goals for the course. We collect the answers and return them at the last meeting. At that point we ask the participants to reflect on how they behaved at the start of the training and where they are now.

The comment expressed in the group most often conveys how hard participants were on themselves when they began the program — how demanding, harsh, cold, and unrelenting they were about the goals they set for themselves. One woman hit the mark when she said, “I would never knowingly choose to treat someone the way I treated myself.”

In his book Meetings at the Edge, Stephen Levine, a meditation teacher and expert on death and dying, writes, “Kindness to yourself might be the most difficult path you will ever tread, because it is so unexplored and we have so little support for that kind of self mercy.”

Kindness toward oneself is a feeling that is foreign to many of our students. Some tell us they have no right to ask it for themselves: kindness is expressed only to someone else. Some identify gentleness toward themselves with weakness: Anything worth having, after all, has to be hard to achieve...doesn’t it?

Kindness is a rare gift that we seldom give ourselves. In reality, it is often something we think we have to earn. Kindness for ourselves becomes a commodity that we use to bargain with. For example, we might make ourselves work to the point of exhaustion before allowing ourselves a break.

Perhaps one of the unkindest things we do is try to change ourselves because we think something is wrong with us. We can become fixated on our flaws and even become addicted to the idea of self-
improvement. To say, “There is nothing fundamentally wrong with me,” sounds like a lie, a brag, or self-delusion. What prevents us from accepting our inherent goodness is a harsh, critical attitude toward ourselves that other people notice but which often goes unnoticed by us.

One of the most destructive applications of this attitude is to tell others (or ourselves) that there is something wrong with them as a way to motivate change. Most research on optimism and on motivation behavior, such as the work of positive psychologist Martin Seligman, shows time and again that we flourish with praise and kind words, and that harsh, unfair, and personally motivated criticism is a form of emotional violence, especially when we internalize it and become our own biggest critic.

Many MBSR course participants say that the cultivation of friendliness toward themselves and the opportunity to experience it is one of the most important aspects of the course. That kindness, which allows them to open their hearts to themselves, helps nurture a new perspective.

During the course, we sometimes present a guided meditation on being kind to ourselves. The responses of course participants can be deeply moving. Once the meditation is over, there is softness in the room — gentleness — and often tears flow. Linda frequently reads a quote from Pema Chödrön, a widely respected American nun in the Tibetan tradition and meditation teacher, who wrote in The Wisdom of No Escape: “Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.” Many in the group nod in agreement with these wise words that teach kindness and tenderness toward ourselves. We explore this theme in all of its aspects as we progress through the program.

Linda Lehrhaupt, PhD, is the coauthor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and the executive director of the Institute for Mindfulness-Based Approaches (IMA).

Petra Meibert, Dipl. Psych, is the coauthor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and codirector of the Ruhr Institute for Mindfulness in Germany.

Excerpted from the book Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Copyright ©2017 by Linda Lehrhaupt and Petra Meibert. Printed with permission from New World Library.

"Life happens. Life in the flow."

We learn over time that nobody can solve our problems, but someone can guide you how to solve the problem. You may receive guidance through a teacher, a guru or even strangers that you run into every day. As we practice yoga we learn that the more we know, the less we truly know. Every day I am reminded how much I truly do not know; a very humbling experience.
Yoga teaches me to be present. To just live for being and enjoying life as it is right NOW. Not ten minutes from now, no five days ago, but right now. We are taught to get out of our heads, to release worries and fears of the past or the future and to only live for this very moment. Presence.

"Lead me from untruth to truth, lead me from darkness to light." ~ Buddha

Through yoga we are reminded that we do have a dark side as well as a light side. We are not to repress the dark side, but embrace that side of our Self. We are the yin and the yang. We ultimately cleanse the dark stuff we hold inside. We shine the light on this. We must make friends with dark side. Both positive and negative balance out the whole. Daily practice refines and improves our inner vision to see our Self more clearly. We no longer need to run from fears. Face them and say I'm not running from you anymore. So much is in our heads, so much dark is only in our heads, self-doubt judgment betrayal. Yoga grounds the body so that the light and dark sides of ourselves become clear. So much is truly untrue. But as we diligently practice we are able to find the middle ground and walk our centered balanced line in life. We gain balance in centered lightheartedness. We can have harmony in both light and dark.

"Yoga tells us that the world is actually a projection of our own thoughts and we can modify our inner world to manifest into our outer world. When our inside realm is at peace and in harmony, our outer world shines this projection back at us."
~ David, Jiva Mukti Yoga co-founder

Yoga is observation.

We can observe our world and see what part that is in us is begin reflected back to us. We can then see what part of us needs modification or adjustment in order to have our outer reality reflect back to us the peace, happiness and love we so greatly desire and deserve.

Yoga is already inside of you. Happiness is there. Yoga helps you peel away the onion layers to get to the core. To freedom. The deepest Divine connection to the Ultimate Light Source.

Come out of wanting and back into acceptance and Joy. A yogi or yogini can turn any situation into bliss. That is a yogi. Yoga is being now. Ultimate yoga is meditation. Just BE.

Yoga is love.

"Love is the light that dissolves all walls between souls." 
~ Paramahansa Yogananda

Through a dedicated practice of all forms of yoga we can participate in the world with a sense of freedom, unaffected from trauma, depression, anger, etc. The freedom is balance in both.

Maggie Anderson is a Yoga & Spiritual Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher, Integrated Energy Therapy® Master Instructor, Soul Coach®, Past Life Coach, Magnified Healing® Master Teacher and Angelights Messenger. She is the author of How I Found My True Inner Peace and Divine Embrace. You can contact Maggie at

"Follow Your Bliss. It's Your Spiritual Compass."