Take a look at a short script for guiding a key exercise in Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), often known as Compassionate Memory. This exercise is commonly used in CFT to help people build their compassionate mind
You can also access this as a PDF download here
You can also find access to some of the audio practices here, and guided compassion self-help courses here
Sit in an upright, comfortable but confident position. Engage in your soothing rhythm breathing, allowing your breathing to slow a little. Gently rest your attention in the flow of breathing in, and breathing out. Stay with this for 60 seconds, or so. Allow your face to relax, and gently bring a warm or friendly expression to your face.
When you feel ready, bring to mind a memory of a time that you remember feeling compassion for another person or, perhaps an animal. It might be a time that you offered to help someone who was struggling with a difficulty at work, or in their relationship. It might be a time that you helped someone to carry a heavy bag on to the train, or looked after your poorly pet. Try to pick a memory in which the other person or animal wasn’t in too much distress.
Within this memory, try to remember what your intention was towards this other being – what did you want for them? Spend 30-60 seconds focusing on this, trying to hold that intention in mind.
Next, see if you can remember what your body language or facial expression was like. Consider how the way you were standing, the way you held your body, or the expression on your face conveyed your compassion or kindness towards the other. Notice if you can reconnect to an echo of that feeling now. (30 secs)
Maybe you could try and remember the words you said that might have been validating or empathetic, and just replay these over in your mind. Imagine what the tone of your voice is that conveys your care for the other person (15 secs).
Try to hold in mind if there was anything you did to help this person or animal. See what it’s like to imagine playing the action through again in your mind, a bit like watching a video tape.
Spend a couple more minutes focussing on the memory. Before bringing the exercise to a close, notice the pattern of compassion that you’ve experienced here – body posture, facial expression, voice tone, reassuring words and helpful actions but crucially, a caring, compassionate intention. Know that this pattern is there to tap back in to whenever you need to.
Now, slowly begin to allow the image to fade and return back to noticing your soothing breathing rhythm and upright, confident posture in the chair (10 secs)
When you feel ready, slowing open your eyes and bring yourself back in to the room
These exercises and practices have all been adapted from the wonderful work of Paul Gilbert – find out more at www.compassiontemind.co.uk