So, I’m still meditating regularly. Not every day. I’m really just not that organized. Or should I say, to cut myself some well deserved slack in the spirit of compassion and kindness, I have way too busy a life to expect myself to be able to perfectly fit it into a strict daily routine. But I have succeeded in doing it ALMOST daily, which is WONDERFUL for me.
Today, I used some tips from a book on meditation that I have slowly been reading, normally only 5-10 pages right before I meditate to help me learn more and get in the groove. In today’s session I focused on love and kindness. I started with trying to focus on a love for myself. Let’s start by clarifying that I don’t think that I have necessarily have a low self esteem. I believe I normally hold myself in quite high regard, really. If I get down to the truth, I do believe that I am smart, kind, talented, strong, hard working, loving, and trustworthy. But to have these vague ideas of what one thinks of oneself and to actually feel and show genuine love and kindness towards yourself are two completely different things. It is just the same as if you were considering someone else. You may look at another person in your life and think very highly of them, believing them to have many admirable attributes and characteristics that you like. But this does not mean that you truly love that person. As a matter of fact, you may have no special feelings towards this person at all. You may even NOT like them because they DO have so many admirable characteristics that you find it irritating.
When it comes to the people in my life whom I truly love, I can tell you the basic reasons why I love them, such as: they are a good person, they are trustworthy, they are fun and kind and good to me, et cetera. But, really, I love the whole of the person, faults and everything. I not only accept them for who they are, but sometimes their weakness or faults may be part what makes me love them more. It’s like the nuts on an ice cream sundae. It may not be a sweet flavour, and not everyone may like it, but it does add a different taste. And I love it. With my friends and family, I am very good at loving unconditionally, faults and all. I hardly ever really judge their actions, unless forced to by some conflicting situation. I love them for who they are.
I do not really love myself in the same way, though. How I feel about myself at any given moment is not an unwavering, unconditional love. It is a situational thing, based on how “good” I think I’ve been doing in my life. Like I said, I don’t believe that I necessarily have a low self esteem. I do not believe myself unworthy of all that is good. But I have not really loved myself unconditionally, not until today.
Today the part I focused on was internalizing and taking that unconditional love that I so freely give to those most treasured in my life and graciously bestowing it unto myself. I envisioned the love that I feel for my children and took that feeling and focused it on myself, as if I were my own parent, loving myself in the way every child deserves to be loved. I envisioned the love and admiration I have for both of my parents and turned it inwards to myself. I thought of the tender love I have for my significant other, my siblings, and my closest friends. I used these examples and others, basically any thing or person that invokes that feeling of love in me, as models to show myself the same love and kindness. It was such a good, beautiful feeling. Though, admittedly difficult to focus on myself. I would be caught in the moment. And then it would be gone. And I would have to refocus my attention and try again. I did notice, though, that it seemed to get easier through the session, and the feeling seemed to stay with me a little more and a little more. It’s a sweet, warm sensation, loving myself unconditionally, faults and all, without expectation or contrition; just as I am, without feeling any need to change myself at all.
It sounds so simple. But the truth is I’ve never really loved myself this way, not in practice, atleast. I may have thought, or even felt at my deepest inner core, that I loved myself unconditionally and wholly, but the truth is I am always trying to change something about myself. Improve myself, I should say. It’s always to make myself “better”. So, I don’t know that I would call it unhealthy. I realized today, though, that there must be some balance between self improvement and self acceptance. It’s easy for me to find that balance towards others, to want the ones I love to be their best and live their happiest, but to still accept and love them endlessly no matter what. It just never occurred to me that maybe I needed to treat my own heart and soul with that same kind of unconditional love and kindness.
My meditation continued during my session today with me taking the love that I was feeling towards myself and then mentally extending it towards others. Focusing on some person or thing or situation, breathing all my love and good vibes into it through my heart and mind’s eye, and then releasing it and going on to some other subject in need of love from my soul. Or maybe it is my soul that is in need of feeling the joy that comes from giving such love and kindness.
That is the beauty and truth in it. Any psychologist could testify to the good effects of showing love and kindness to yourself and finding a way to truly love oneself unconditionally. That has to be a good thing. But the idea of spending a half hour just sitting cross-legged in your living room sending out good joojoo love vibes to those you think might need it may sound a little far fetched to some. However, I do believe in the energy of the world and that my own personal energy has an effect on it. I do believe in karma. I do believe in prayer. Sending out meditative mental love to the world is something of a combination of all of these things. It is also well known to psychologists that compassion and kindness to others plays a major factor in increasing one’s own happiness. So, even if you believe in none of these other things, the fact remains that unleashing in yourself a feeling of unconditional love towards yourself and then extending that compassion and love to others is going to have a positive effect on your own mental and emotional health.
This is what I learned today. I am so grateful for learning and experiencing it. I hope that I will be able to remember it and practice it more often. And I hope that it helps me to continue to grow, with an open mind and a courageous heart, learning more about myself and the world everyday.