The Mindful Way Through Grief, Loss & Heartbreak. A 4 Step Process & Free Meditation

Everyone has moments of pain and distress.

We all have the tendency to struggle in those difficult moments. When the demands of our lives stretch us to our limits, when we feel the searing grief of a loss or we are overcome with anxiety, depression or hopelessness – and we struggle or fight against our difficult emotions, it’s like drowning in quicksand. We only add more suffering to an already difficult moment.

There is another, more gentle, courageous and skilful way to meet our moments of pain, and it’s powerful.

In the past two years I’ve had to learn this lesson again and again. I’ve experienced a lot of difficulty and loss including three deaths and the ending of my 18 year relationship. There have been moments that I have been literally brought to my knees with the pain.

Fortunately, I had the power of mindfulness and self-compassion on my side. Each time I was hit with another wave of pain, fear or confusion I did one simple practice (often many times a day!). It’s called the self-compassion break. (I’ve recorded a version of it for you here)

This practice will help soothe you in your hardest moments and nourish you like warm sunshine on a cold day. Rather than shutting down, struggling or numbing out when we are hurting, self-compassion offers us a way to develop courage, kindness and awareness in the middle of it all.

Here is the guide for how to do the practice below as well as a recorded version of the meditation for you to download and have with you whenever you need it most. This practice was created by Dr Kristen Neff, an expert on self-compassion. I highly recommend her book for those who would like to delve into this further.

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4 Step Self-Compassion Break

When you have a situation in your life that is challenging, painful or causing you distress, take a pause for a moment. Tune into your body and see if you can locate, and feel into, where you feel the physical sensations of the emotion in your body.

STEP 1) Is to bring mindful acceptance to what is happening. By doing this we can begin to let go of hardening against, and struggling with, what is happening.

So step one is to say to yourself either out loud or mentally:

“This is a moment of suffering”

STEP 2) Is about realizing our common humanity and normalizing the experience of having difficult feelings (we all do sometimes). There is no need for us to feel so alone in our experience or feel guilty or ashamed of what is a normal part of being human.

In this step say to yourself either out loud or mentally:

“Suffering is a part of life. I am not alone in this”

STEP 3) Offering yourself compassion and soothing. This is a difficult moment so here we bring kindness into the midst of our pain.

First, place your hands over your heart as a gesture of self-compassion, or if there is another gesture that feels right for you, do that instead.

Then saying to yourself the third phrase:

“May I be kind to myself”

STEP 4) This is an optional extra step. Here you can also ask yourself, “What do I need right now to express kindness to myself?” Are there words that you could speak to yourself like “May I accept myself just as I am” or “may I be patient” or “may I slow down a little and breathe”

Or is there anything you could do in your particular situation that could nourish you and comfort you? An action step such as such as:

Taking a warm bath, going for a walk in nature, meditating, calling a friend for support etc

Through cultivating this kind of mindful self-compassion we can find connection and soothing when we’re hurting instead of walling ourselves off or shutting down. We can be open to learning what our hardship may have to teach us (as many a wise man has said, suffering is often our greatest teacher) and we can allow the grief to humble us, deepen us and crack our hearts wide open.

My favourite Sufi poet Rumi one said:

Rumi Quote - “The wound is the place where the light enters”

In my experience this practice of self-compassion in the hardest days of my adult life has brought peace to my pain, meaning to my challenges and made me a better person. I hope it supports you whenever you need it the most.

Love, Melli

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Join the Discussion


  1. Thank you beautiful soul. This meditation took me instantly to ‘being love’ and feeling compassion. My gratitude for you lighting the way to inner healing for me is deeply heartfelt. It began with the month of October interview series. May we not suffer.

  2. Thank you Melli. Your kindness flows through your words.
    Self compassion is so easily missed as we struggle through our losses and problems. It can make us feel guilty just to recognise it.
    I wish you the best in your future. It can be tough sometimes when we are in the midst of it all. Lost love and the shock of it can alter us for a lifetime if we let it and I have seen that many times and felt it too.
    Thank goodness mindfulness is there to connect us back into our real selves in stillness and in understanding.

  3. Dear Meli
    I am so sorry for you recent losses. I too find the Self Compassion Break a very helpful and kind meditation. My marriage ended after 30 years and I can truly say that self compassion and mindfulness have saved me from sinking into despair and sorrow. I am now really happy and wish you the same. Another wonderful Kristin Neff meditation for heartbreak I find is Soften Soothe Allow. Thank you too Meli for the great work you do. You touch many people and improve their lives.

  4. Suzanne Agnew says:

    I don’t know what I’d do without you Melli! It’s been a revelation discovering mindfulness and the meditations that you share help me so much when I’m struggling to gain perspective and cope with things. Thank you!

  5. For the first time in ages I have felt my breath in a deep way. I didn’t realise how upset and stressed I was. Thank you for that

  6. Dear Meli
    Thank you for sharing this beautiful message today.
    I just now shared it with my fibromyalgia community as another example of self-kindness in practice. I live with fibro myself and teach classes for others who also live with this demanding health challenge.

  7. Thank you for this much needed and beautiful meditation practice. Truly profound 🙂 with gratitude, kerry

  8. Prem Dana Takada says:

    Thankyou Meli. Self Compassion is certainly a master key for my and all healing. thanks!

  9. Beautiful and powerful meditation. Thank you! A recommendation on the recording: your breathing and swallowing are all clearly audible and a bit creepy and distracting. The mic seems to close to you.

  10. Dear Meli

    I loved the free mindfulness summit a few years ago and I really love getting meditations and tips on mindfulness from you.

    I love combing the whole lot with yoga stretching and breathing and trying to be mindful in the moment. I find this can be tricky. Our minds can go to a million places, so thanks

  11. Nicky Bowler says:

    Thank you for your honesty and openness I value it and respect you for it.
    We talk about experiential therapy but here I observe you practising for yourself and then guiding others

  12. Donna Martino says:

    My Mom passed away this time last week. I have been hurting but busy with preparation and plans all week and not sleeping well. I have also been suffering with regret about our last conversation. Taking this moment this morning allowed me to identify that I was holding that pain in my back, it allowed me to express my regret to myself and console myself by reminding myself of the love and compassion I served my mom with through out her life with physical health and mental health issues. This knowledge brought me peace. I consoled myself as I would my youngest child and provided myself with compassion and reassurance, which I give so easily to him. I felt my body let go of the pain. It was gone. I felt the gentle morning sunlight flow through me. Thank you.

  13. Barbara Cove says:

    Presently I am needing to return to this self-compassion meditation, that you speak so gently too. I am touched by your honesty in letting us know about your recent rough times. And so as I listen I realised that you speak with deep experience and integrity

  14. This meditation is profound for me. Thank you so much.

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