A Meditation to Develop Love for Yourself & Others
In the last article, we talked about developing the ability to be present with ourselves in a loving manner. How different that is than the usual comparisons and judgments we inflict on ourself. We talked about how developing Witness Consciousness, the ability to observe ourself with no-judgment is actually true love as it is based on knowledge and acceptance. Once we have learned how to stand back and observe ourself in the drama of our life, we can develop a loving presence even further.
Our usual tendency is to watch ourselves to fix ourselves. This is It different kind of awareness. We simply observe. What we can also do, is when we find ourselves in difficult situations or with difficult emotions, we can send ourselves love. Right there, in the moment. We can do this. We often depend on others for this. We feel we need our partner or a friend, but really, the secret is, we have this ability to do this for ourself. In recent years, there is talk of parenting ourselves. To parent ourselves, we have to witness ourself and from this state, have compassion. From the compassion, we send ourselves love, like a good parent.
In Tibetan Buddhism, there is a wonderful meditation practice that I often teach clients. Especially those with low self-.esteem (almost everyone!). The practice is called Metta meditation. Metta means unconditional friendliness and that is what this practice helps one to develop for oneself and others. This meditation is very old in the Tibetan Culture, and yet so needed in ours. Could it be that this very ancient practice contributes to the Tibetans not having a word for low self-esteem? After one sends oneself kindness and wishes for happiness, it is then sent to a friend and a neutral person. As one develops in this practice, kind wishes are even sent to ones enemy and then all people. One needs to develop kindly feelings toward oneself and then extend it to others.
In our culture, with so much wounding, it is very important to start with ourselves. Until we can feel loving kindness to ourselves, it is difficult to give it to others in any consistent fashion. The ability to have kind regard for ourself, whatever our patterns or issues, is the beginning of compassionate regard for all others. As we can watch our anger, jealousy, pettiness, greediness, fears etc. and have compassionate kindness to ourself, we are able to tolerate and accept this in others.
This practice is considered a meditation. In a comfortable position, with eyes closed, or partly closed, one begins by getting a sense of oneself and then sends oneself wishes for good. Typically, there are four traditional statements: May you have peace; may you have happiness; may you have health; may you take care of yourself with joy. Over and over again, you repeat these statements to yourself. If you are having a hard time sensing yourself in a way that you can send yourself love, imagine yourself as a child, or even wounded. With some clients, who have had great difficulty sending any kindness to themselves, I have had them imagine a wounded animal and when the kindness starts flowing, they stick themselves in the image.