This Valentine’s Day I want you to give yourself a little love. I’m not talking about the molded-silicone-water-based-lube-and-plenty-o-batteries kind of self-love. That’s fun, but I’m talking about having the courage to make a place for yourself in your own heart…just as you are.
I know this can be difficult especially when you’ve had a particularly shitty day, when you are feeling hopeless, or frustrated, or so fat that you fear you may be mistaken for a cetacean. But before you dive for the chardonnay or contemplate re-watching all four seasons of Scandal until you are bleeding from the eyes, first try offering yourself this little Valentine: It’s called
or loving-kindness meditation, and it’s one of my favourite self-love exercises. It’s a simple yet profound practice that will foster some sweet, sweet self-lovin’. Metta meditation is an amazing way to nurture compassion for yourself, and for others. Think of it as a little sugar-free candy heart you can give yourself that says, “Hey you, I heart you”.
Like most people, I have a tendency to focus on the things I don’t like about myself. It’s easy to offer kindness and love to the parts of ourselves that we like, but Metta meditation’s real power is revealed when we offer loving-kindness to the parts of ourselves we don’t like.
As Thich Nhat Han says, “Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person”. With that in mind, you begin Metta meditation practice by offering compassion to yourself first.
Let’s give it try.
Place yourself in a seated, upright position, either sitting in a chair or comfortably on a mat or cushion. Begin by focusing on your breath, following the sensation of the air as it enters and leaves into your lungs. Feel your chest rise and fall with each inhale and exhale. Continue this focused breathing for 5-10 breaths.
Next, gently bring into your mind one thing that you don’t like about yourself. It may be your quick temper or your tendency to procrastinate or the fact that you drank too much again on Friday night. Or, if you’re like me, it may be how disgusting you feel when you see what your butt looks naked (TMI? Well, this is my post and I reserve my right to over-share).
Now, silently offer that less-than-ideal part of yourself this blessing: Continue to silently repeat this blessing for the duration of your meditation time. Aim for 15 minutes. Set a timer so you don’t feel like you’ve been sitting there for ages. Even 5 minutes will make a huge difference.
In time you will expand your focus and offer the blessing to all aspects of yourself:
the good, the bad, and the wobbly.
Then you will extend the blessing to all your loved ones as well: offering them peace, safety, and freedom from suffering too. Eventually, you will move on to offer loving-kindness to people that you feel neutral about: acquaintances or strangers.
Finally, when you have mastered all that, you will offer the same blessing to everyone in the whole world, including the people you’re angry with, the people who’ve hurt you, and the people with whom you are estranged. I know, it sounds like a tall order but trust me, offering that blessing is as much about what it does for you as what it does for anyone else.
But first, start with yourself. Once you’ve got that down, the rest gets easier.
Unfortunately, you cannot get the benefits of this practice just by reading about it. You have to try it!
Here is your homework:
Everyday for the next week give yourself 15 minutes.
Set your timer.
Get your big lovable whale-butt on the cushion (I’m speaking to myself here).
Open your heart, make a nice comfy spot for yourself in there,
and go Metta!
I would love to hear how it goes for you. Please send me an email or leave me a comment.
Now go and love yourselves silly!