Students engage in a guided self-compassion meditation.


Students will be able to:

  1. identify a self-critical moment and reframe it to demonstrate self-compassion with the help of group members
  2. demonstrate respect through listening and working in a supportive way with group members to reframe unkind moments
  3. identify other classmates who were supportive or helpful during the lesson


Audio player, guided meditation site (see link below); optional: pen and paper, written reflection pages


Time Activity Notes
3 min

Introduce and connect back to previous lesson on self-compassion. Preview activity for the day and introductory meditation.

You may want to preview at the very beginning of class that, at the end of class, you will be asking for students to identify fellow classmates who did particularly helpful or positive things during class today, so students can be on the lookout.

Suggestion: Have students be in pairs vs small groups for more comfort as they get to know each other and get to know the exercise.  Consider the environment where you do this activity and whether or not a change of scenery is an option for this class period.
7 min
Guided Meditation

Walk students through a guided meditation to begin class.

Suggested guided meditation (7:00)
30 mins
Group Activity: Self-Compassion Circle

Round 0: Break students up in groups of four, and assign students a partner within that group: Students 1 and 2 are partners and students 3 and 4 are partners.

Round 1: Student 1 tells student 2 about a time when they were self-critical or unkind. Student 2 just listens. After student 1 is finished, student 2 may ask student 1 a few clarifying questions, but should avoid making statements. While Student 1 is telling his/her story to student 2, student 3 tells his/her story to student 4. Student 4 is listener for student 3. This round should take 2-3 minutes.

  1. Storyteller
  2. Listener, asks questions
  3. Storyteller
  4. Listener, asks questions

Round 2: Student 2 becomes the storyteller. Student 2 tells student 1’s story, but reframes the story “as a friend” and incorporates elements of self-compassion. Students 3 and 4 listen actively but silently. Student 1 may want to take notes on how their story is reframed. This round should take 2-3 minutes.

  1. Notetaker
  2. Storyteller (1’s story)
  3. Active Listener
  4. Active Listener

Round 3: Student 3 becomes the storyteller. Student 3 tells student 2’s story, but reframes the story “as a friend” and incorporates elements of self-compassion. Student 1 listens actively but silently. Student 2 may want to take notes on how their story is reframed. This round should take 2-3 minutes.

  1. Active Listener
  2. Notetaker
  3. Storyteller (2’s story)
  4. Active Listener

Rounds 4, 5, and 6: Repeat rounds 1, 2, and 3, but switch original storyteller and listener (i.e., this time the students who listened and retold as friends are the storytellers, sharing a moment when they were self-critical). Each round should take 2-3 minutes. When round 6 is finished, each member of the group has shared a self-critical moment and heard it retold from a self-compassionate perspective.

Round 7: Assign an order to the group (clockwise or counterclockwise works). Each student will retell their original moment of self-criticism from a self-compassionate perspective. Encourage these final versions of the story to incorporate the kind words they heard from the retelling of their own or other’s stories in the course of the lesson.

Have students work in small groups for this activity. The plan to the left explains how to create this activity for groups of 4, which works best. Adjust numbers to accommodate your class needs.

Suggestion: Break up the directions for this group activity rather than giving them all at once. Divide the activity into rounds, and direct students to each step of the process, one round at a time. This allows students to be clear on directions as well as requires them to be fully present in this round, allowing the activity to build organically and preventing them from jumping ahead.

Optional: For students who may require additional support in this area, provide an example conversation between two students to clarify roles and demonstrate interaction. Have students role play it.

10 mins
Class Debrief

Guide the class in debriefing the sharing/listening exercise above. This can be an oral discussion or a written reflection, as appropriate. Suggested questions for debrief:

  • How did this experience help you find ways to be self-compassionate?
  • What specific ways did your partners retell your story that helped you to be self-compassionate?
  • Share in a few sentences your original self-critical moment and how you changed your thinking during the exercise.
  • What is one thing that a group member did particularly well today? Examples: How did someone help you see something you didn’t see before? How vulnerable were your group members allowing themselves to be with their self-critical moments? What effective listening skills did you see? What were some effective strategies others used with retelling their partner’s story?

Connections to Other Emotions

The group work fosters the emotions of connected/supported, as group members are supporting each other to find new, more self-compassionate ways of seeing their difficult moments.

Criteria for Success/Formative Assessment

During the whole class debrief, students will:

  • Actively and thoughtfully engage by answering questions.
  • Articulate specific ways of retelling their self-critical moment
  • Identify how other classmates contributed positively to the lesson