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The Power of Mindful Self-Compassion: How to Release Samskaras and Cultivate Inner Peace

Samskaras are an important concept in the yoga sutras as well as in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, that refer to the psychological imprints left on the mind by past experiences and actions.

Essentially, samskaras are mental impressions or patterns that can influence our thoughts, emotions, and behavior in both positive and negative ways.

In the context of meditation, samskaras can be thought of as the mental habits or tendencies that we bring to our practice. For example, if we have a habit of negative self-talk or rumination, this can manifest as distracting thoughts or feelings during meditation. Equally, if we have a habit of cultivating gratitude or kindness, this can support a deeper and more focused meditation practice.

One of the goals of meditation is to become more aware of our samskaras (our habitual patterns whether of behaviour or thoughts) and to work with them in a skillful way. By observing our thoughts and emotions with curiosity and non-judgment, we can begin to recognise the patterns that are most present in our minds. From there, we can choose to cultivate positive samskaras through intentional practices like mindfulness, loving-kindness, and compassion.

In essence, samskaras are a reminder that we are not just the sum of our experiences, but also the way that we respond to them.

Through meditation, we can learn to work with our samskaras in a way that supports greater clarity, well-being, and wisdom in our lives.

Self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself with the same kindness, concern, and support you would offer to a good friend. It's a powerful tool that can help you navigate life's challenges with greater ease and resilience. One particularly effective method of cultivating self-compassion is through the RAIN meditation.

RAIN is an acronym that stands for Recognise, Allow, Investigate, and Nurture. It's a simple yet powerful technique that can help you bring mindfulness and self-compassion to any difficult situation or emotion.

Here's how to practice RAIN meditation:

1. Recognise: The first step is to simply recognise and acknowledge what you're feeling. This might be anxiety, sadness, anger, or any other difficult emotion. Take a moment to name the emotion and acknowledge its presence.

2. Allow: The second step is to allow yourself to feel the emotion without judgment or resistance. This means letting go of any impulse to push the emotion away or distract yourself from it. Instead, simply allow yourself to experience the emotion fully, without trying to change it. You might recognise it by giving it a name, and then simply acknowledge by saying "yes", giving it space to be.

3. Investigate: The third step is to investigate the emotion with curiosity and kindness. This means asking yourself questions like, "Where do I feel this emotion in my body?" or "What thoughts or beliefs are contributing to this emotion?" Take a few moments to explore the emotion in this way, with a sense of compassionate curiosity.

4. Nurture: The final step is to nurture yourself with kindness and compassion. This means offering yourself words of support and comfort, as you would to a friend in need. You might say something like, "It's okay to feel this way," or "I'm here for you, no matter what." Take a few moments to offer yourself these words of kindness and support.

As you practice RAIN meditation, remember to approach yourself with gentleness and kindness. Remember that self-compassion is a skill that takes time to develop, and it's okay to make mistakes along the way. With practice, you can learn to cultivate a greater sense of self-compassion, and navigate life's challenges with greater ease and resilience.

To support your practise, here is a guided RAIN meditation for you to use either with the sound on, or using the captions.

Mindful meditation has been shown to support mental wellbeing, promote focus and relaxation. It can complement but is not a replacement for medical support from a qualified health professional, particularly for ongoing or acute mental wellbeing challenges.

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