Self-Compassion as a Key to Meaningful Work Culture

By: David Hart, Journey Meditation Teacher

Mindfulness without compassion is like a rowboat with one oar—woozily circling. Meditation allows us to see clearly our experience, (and what we’re adding to our experience). With that clarity, we have the chance to make healthier decisions that can benefit ourselves and others.

In the workplace, it allows us to bring a determined heartfulness to better care for ourselves and our coworkers. That care extends to an interest in how our businesses show up in the world. Regardless of your field, if you can’t empathize with your clients or customers, you can’t build solutions to solve the challenges they have. Similarly, building a successful team over the long-term requires a commitment to courageous compassion.

Compassion is all about noticing what’s happening and showing up appropriately to meet the needs of the moment. The Golden State Warriors famously pointed to mindfulness as a key to their championship runs, but also emphasized joy, competition, and compassion as their core beliefs.

In the business world, c-suite executives are starting to catch on. The Harvard Business Review pointed to a survey of over 1,000 executives, in which “91% said compassion is very important for leadership, and 80% would like to enhance their compassion but do not know how.”


So what practices and habits can help develop that other oar of compassion? As with most mindfulness practices, start with yourself.

  • A stand-alone daily practice can be as simple as the 5-minute self-compassion break created by researcher Kristen Neff, which guides participants through imagining a stressful moment, attuning to the experience, and developing the capacity to build self-support.

  • For longer durations, try a R.A.I.N. practice, which cultivates the ability to recognize a difficult experience, allow for a pause, investigate with kindness, and rest in natural awareness.

I’ve found that leaving a few minutes at the end of my meditation to reflect on compassion or gratitude has helped me to deal with stress, difficult emotions, and challenges within my daily life. It’s also why we end the Journey Meditation practice with a period for mindful appreciation. As a New Yorker, it’s intuitive for me to jump up and rush to the next thing, so a pause for compassion helps me stay aligned with my values and intentions. And that determination helps me bring clarity and purpose to my work.