Tag Archives: self-love

Compassion with ConsciousCafe Singapore

ConsciousCafe founder Judy Piatkis with Singapore group leader Hanna Krasnodebska, earlier this year.

Conscious Café Singapore met recently for another interesting discussion, this time on the theme of Compassion, with special speaker Anita Kapoor who introduced the topic and led the discussion.

Compassion is at the root of human contacts and relationships, but is it really evident in the way we are currently interacting with each other, or with nature? What are our personal experiences of compassion? Is compassion a clearly defined state of being or does it have a spectrum? Is compassion a dominant modus operandi currently? What can we do to bring back the compassion into our interactions and stop being a cutthroat?

Compassion is a virtue of our humanness. It is wired into our biology via the vagus nerve that transmits information to and from lungs, heart and organs of digestion and additionally serves the parasympathetic nervous system that is calming in opposition to the fight-flight response. It is our “nerve of compassion” that promotes altruism, gratitude according to Professor Porges’ Polyvagal Theory. There is also the “love hormone” oxytocin that is responsible for the social bonding.

The dominating concept of “survival of the fittest” that originated from Darwin’s evolutionary theory have been influencing societies and cultures for the past 150 years.  There is a need in the contemporary chaotic, fragmented, competition-dominated world to shift into a kind and compassionate co-existence. Participants shared their experiences of how the education system ingrains and reinforces competitiveness, how workplaces value and reward it, and how at the level of individual interactions this can be a dominant characteristic. In the presence and pressure of constant comparison we either strive to fit in or isolate ourselves into our own personal world – a private reality, we get depressed, feel anxious. If we do not get that top prize we are no longer “unfortunate” – that term has at least a smudge of compassion. No, we become “losers”.

That disconnection has been spreading. The rise of individualism, the emancipation of the individual in modernity from many societal structures has been, on one hand, a positive development, but on the other it’s increasingly producing its own antithesis – tribalism, conformism. Yet so many of us are craving a true community to belong to.

Our group discussed the aspects of compassion as a spectrum of engagement. Often a compassion is mistaken with pity, the feeling of sharing the suffering of another human being, while compassion is the feeling of empathy and a desire to help, to alleviate the suffering. It is very powerful to hear a personal story and participants were generously sharing.

We touched on the importance of the self-compassion: that special kindness towards oneself that is interlinked with forgiveness towards our own errors, mistakes and failures. Various examples from personal practices on how to cultivate it were shared: looking after oneself, seeking physical comfort, letting go of perfectionism, practising mindfulness, being aware of emotions and shame arising, allowing oneself to seek help.

We concluded that there is rising awareness of the importance of cultivating compassion in children as well as in adults, and that we all as individuals can contribute by being aware of our daily interactions and response choices. Compassion in action.


This blog post is written by Hanna Krasnodebska, leader of ConsciousCafe Singapore. Follow the Singapore group page to keep up to date with upcoming meetings!

A Very Thought-Provoking London Discussion on Self-Love

Tamara Alferoff facilitated a memorable discussion at ConsciousCafe on the topic of Self-Love, on a freezing cold snowy night in London, at the end of February.

She started by telling us that when she googled the words ‘self-love’, there were 54 million results for it. Such a huge number.

Why are so many people wanting to explore the meaning of self-love at this time?

Tamara posed a number of ideas which we explored together.

She suggested that society’s obsession with the topic reflects back to us what is happening in our Western world today.  Many people no longer experience the loving stability of their family as in previous times. The women’s movement has raised womens’ self-esteem but men now feel destabilised. Elderly people no longer feel part of the family unit while too many children are in care. Western society has lost its respect for mothering and for the importance of nurturing. Even people in solid relationships feel unworthy, not good enough in some way.

In addition we have few leaders and role-models in all walks of life who we respect. We live in a time of great change and upheaval and comfort ourselves with shallow gossip from the media. Positive politics does not seem to exist.

The topic of self-love in magazines focuses on pampering ourselves in spas with wine and selfies. But is that what we mean by self-love? Is it what we really want or need?

Where is the mirror that mirrors back to us that we are worthy, good human beings?

The group were fascinated by the deep connection of the ideas around self-love and its alignment with the changing social values in our contemporary Western society. It left us all with many important questions to reflect on.

After this powerful introduction, the group began to share their ideas and their wisdom.  There were divergent viewpoints about the meaning of self-love.  Does a lack of self-love illuminate our shadow? How do we love people and their shadows? Perhaps the real challenge with self-love is to find our own shadow, meet it and integrate it?

Is our lack of self-love also caused by a lack of meaning in our lives? Does too much material wealth cause people to lose their humanity and compassion and respect for themselves?  Do we struggle with self-love when we do not have a powerful purpose in our lives to get us out of bed in the morning?

Perhaps the key to self-love is being totally present with ourselves on all occasions even though that is not always possible to achieve.

After much more discussion and exploration, we ended the evening with one of the participants sharing Elizabeth Jennings’ poem Delay and a gorgeous song which Tamara had downloaded for us: I Love Myself the Way I Am  (Jai, Alice Altink)

Tamara’s parting gift was this lovely quote from a friend:

Self-love is the acceptance of who I am in the given moments. This means both times I see things I like about myself and those times when I am not a big fan.

Huge thanks to Tamara for her deep reflection and sharing on this powerful topic and to everyone who contributed to this memorable evening.

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