How much loving kindness do you give to yourself? When you fall short of your own expectations, are you understanding and supportive, or are you too often critical and impatient? It’s pretty difficult to give to others what you don’t have for yourself. How can you reach out to the people who are closest to you, if you don’t know how to reach out to yourself?
There’s a quote that I’ve never forgotten. It’s by Henry David Thoreau: “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to their graves with the song still in them.” I certainly hope that’s an exaggeration, but I believe that many people do go through their lives without ever really getting in touch with their own unique magic. That feels so sad to me. What if we could see our own value? Would we then be able to treat ourselves with loving kindness? Have you ever thought about the fact that there’s no one else just like you in the whole world? There never has been, and there never will be! What if we could begin to see ourselves as absolute miracles? How would that change the way we relate to ourselves and to others?
There are two great books that I would like to recommend. One is called A Path With Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life, by Jack Kornfield. The other is Happy for No Reason: 7 Steps to Being Happy from the Inside Out, by Marci Shimoff. Both of these books are wonderful, but the main reason I’m mentioning them in this entry is that they both contain a meditation that fits in with what I’ve been talking about. It’s called A Meditation on Loving-Kindness. It’s important to meditate on yourself first, so that you are filled with a loving kindness that you can then share with others. Find a quiet, peaceful space, and choose a time when you won’t be interrupted. For 15 to 20 minutes a day, repeat the four lines below. This is a process, and it will take a few weeks before you begin to notice a change within. Whenever you do this meditation, imagine yourself being held gently and tenderly in a loving space.
May I be filled with loving kindness
May I be well
May I be peaceful and at ease
May I be happy
When you feel ready to extend this loving kindness to others, imagine somone you are close to, and say the meditation while you hold an image of this person in your caring heart. In time, this can be extended to family and friends, and then to people you meet as you go about your day to day life in a new loving spirit. It can even be used to heal relationships where there’s anger and bitterness. What would our world be like, if we all held each other in hearts filled with loving kindness?
Go slowly with this. Keep your focus on yourself for several weeks before you start to focus on others. Our negative self talk, over a lifetime, has left us all a bit battered and bruised, so we need to heal our own inner relationship before we’re ready to reach out to others. If you’d like a more thorough explanation on this meditation, please refer to A Path With Heart.
In coming entries, I will focus on other ways to improve our connection to ourselves and to others. I believe so strongly in the power of connection to work miracles. Our lives and everyone we come in contact with will be enriched, if we learn to see with gentle hearts.
Try slipping off to sleep with this meditation held close by,