As a therapist I’ve always had an eclectic approach, open to wisdom from many sources. I’m holistic in nature, understanding the deep significance of the mind-body connection. I believe the best counselling offers empowering practices to help clients get grounded and centered, practice deeply listening to their inner wisdom with mindful presence and compassion. These skills can be used throughout their lives to help them live with peace and take good care of their whole selves – mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and social.
Many of you know that one out of three women around the world experience violence against women, which often impacts their sense of self worth. Mindfulness and self-compassion are powerful practices for healing the trauma of gender-based violence, and are at the heart of my Sexual Violence Healing Program, a comprehensive healing program addressing the destructive impacts of interpersonal violence.
Last year, I was interviewed by Kendra Kantor for her Self Worth e-book. She was exploring the connection between kindness, beauty and our experience of self worth, stemming from an understanding that at the core of wellness is the practice of self care and positive self worth.
Kendra: What does “self worth” mean to you?
Danya: I honour my inherent value as a life form, one of many in this wondrous universe. I am intrinsically deserving of care and concern, like everyone else. I value such qualities as kindness, compassion, connection and cooperation. This is revolutionary as our society focuses self-esteem on comparing oneself to others, and often sets standards that are unattainable and promote feelings of inadequacy. This competitive focus sets us up for feeling disconnection and leads to harsh self-criticism. Instead, mindful self-compassion allows me to look deeply at the authentic me, seeing with clarity my actual skills, abilities and strengths.
Kendra: How do you embrace yourself with love and kindness?
Danya: I pay close attention to my emotional and mental states moment to moment. I practice self-compassion, with an attitude of non-judgemental acceptance, and an approach of loving kindness especially when faced with challenges and suffering.
I often put my hand on my heart and say to myself “This is really hard,” I wrap my arms around myself and say “Darling I’m here for you”, “I’m listening, what do I truly need right now?”. Then I listen deeply for my truth.
Taking care of my suffering with self-compassion provides emotional safety. In building a caring connection within, I am taking good care of my emotional self first. I know I can always use my intellect later to find solutions.
Being self-compassionate also gives me an increased capacity to be present with compassion for others. Since I regularly take care of my own suffering as it comes up, I have enough emotional stability to be truly there for the suffering of others.
(Research shows that self-compassion is learnable, and is at the heart of empowerment, inner strength, resiliency and well-being.)
Kendra: What makes you beautiful?
Danya: What makes me beautiful is a deep connection to my spirit, my deepest self, which shines through me.
Mindfulness practice helps me live in the present moment, deeply connected to myself, my spirit and the world around me. In paying attention to the “suchness of now”, the uniqueness of this moment, I am in relationship with the beautiful dance of life. In touching the beauty all around me with presence and awareness, I connect with the amazing & magical sensations of the natural world. Seeing the rainbow after the rain, feeling the bird’s wing grazing my cheek as she flies by me, hearing the wind rustling the leaves all birth a sense of Awe in me. I am grateful for my incredible body that allows me to sense this magnificent world.
Mindful Self-Compassion – A Healthier Way of Relating to Yourself
“Self-compassion gives emotional strength and resilience, allowing us to recover more quickly, and respond to ourselves and others with care and respect.” ~ Kristin Neff, self-compassion researcher
3 Elements of Self-Compassion:
1) Self-kindness: being kind and understanding toward oneself in instances of pain or failure, rather than being harshly self-critical;
2) Common humanity: perceiving one’s experiences as part of the larger human experience, rather than seeing them as isolating; and
3) Mindfulness: holding painful thoughts and feelings in mindful awareness, rather than over-identifying with or avoiding them.
Mindful Path of Healing the Trauma of Sexual Violence:
Mindfulness and Compassion are at the heart of my upcoming Sexual Violence Healing Program, which is designed as a comprehensive healing program to address the destructive impacts of violence against women. Offering a safety net of support, we build a supportive community of women whose common goal is to create a healthier, happier, and more peaceful future.
This unique international Program includes 10 weeks of individual telephone counselling coupled with a weekly online support group. It weaves together ancient wisdom, modern scientific discoveries, and a grassroots feminist approach to support women to heal and transform the trauma of sexual violence.
Program Participants receive the online support group free of charge, paying only the cost of individual tele-counselling. Additionally, as an expression of compassionate community building and generosity, a “community spot” in the Program is donated to a survivor from a local Rape Crisis Center.
VIDEO: “Mindfulness for Healing Sexual Violence Trauma”. We explore basic neuroscience of mindfulness and trauma, what is mindfulness, practice a mindfulness meditation, and I’ll even give a Belly Dance lesson illustrating embodied practice through mindful movement.
This event is in support of Shine the Light on Violence Against Women campaign and the international 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign.
Danya Daccash, MSW, RSW
Therapist ~ Registered Social Worker
10-week Sexual Violence Healing Program link: