Jane O’Rourke – Compassion Exercise for Wellbeing and Ease at Times of Difficulty

Hello, my name is Jane O’Rourke. I’m a Child, Adolescent and Family Psychotherapist, and a yoga and meditation teacher. Today we’re going to be doing a compassion exercise.

Showing compassion for others often comes a lot more easier than showing for ourselves. But research has shown that if we can show compassion for ourselves, our mental wellbeing can be really improved and we can also sustain higher levels of stress and anxiety if we’re showing ourselves compassion through times of difficulty.

So, finding a comfortable position to either sit in, perhaps feeling supported by a cushion or maybe you’d like to lie down. So whatever feels more comfortable for you, and just allowing yourself to feel more settled here, so just allowing your breath to move freely ant noticing any tension in your body, relaxing your shoulders, relaxing the face, softening the eyes. So you can either close your eyes of just lower them, whatever feels good, and allowing the earth to support you. Giving yourself permission to do nothing for the next few minutes.

So as the body settles, allow your mind to as well. And then bringing to mind somebody you know who is going through some difficulty at the moment, and visualising them and perhaps you’re standing near them and looking at them and taking them in and saying to them “may you be happy, may you be healthy, and may you live with ease and grace”.

And notice them looking back at you with gratitude and feeling your sincerity and your warmest wishes to them. And then visualising them, sending their compassionate wishes to you too, and them saying to you “may you be happy, may you be healthy and may you live with ease and grace”.

And then bringing to mind any other people that might have really been compassionate to you in your lifetime, or somebody that you consider to be a compassionate figure. It might be a religious figure; perhaps Gandhi, Jesus, Mohammed or Martin Luther King, perhaps Mandela, or it might be a pet, an animal who you know has been a trusted and kind animal in your life. So there might be one or two people now standing next to the person who you know you’ve given compassion to, so there’s a circle around you all wishing you well. And they’re saying to you and looking into your eyes, and saying to you “may you be healthy, may you be happy, and may you live with ease and grace”.

And taking in their good wishes and noticing how that feels. Sometime sit can be quite hard to accept compassion from other but noticing if there is a little bit of resistance there, and then sending out compassion to everyone else who you know needs it and perhaps everyone else in the world might need you compassion and good wishes, and saying to them “may you be happy, may you be healthy and may you live with ease and grace”.

And just allowing the breath to settle again, feeling the support of the ground around you, feeling the support of good wishes and compassion from so many others in the world, and your compassion and good wishes resonating throughout the world to anyone who needs it. And if you like it, you can remain here for as long as you like, allowing the breath to be steady and feeling some of the support from the ground, or whenever you’re ready, opening your eyes and coming back into the room in your own time.


Jane O’Rourke guides us through a compassion exercise for wellbeing and ease at times of difficulty. Jane is a Yoga and Meditation Teacher, and a Psychodynamic Psychotherapist with Children, Young People and Families. She teaches Yoga4Trauma within the Trauma Service at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust.

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