"Loving oneself is the foundation for loving another person" ~ Thich Nhat Han
But loving yourself can be hard.
We live in a world where our abilities are constantly compared and judged. Our self esteem is chipped away by social media, and our self image marred by photo shop. There always seems to be someone doing it faster or better. There always seems to be someone with more grace, more money, or longer legs. Add to that the host of other people in our lives requiring our time, energy, dedication and love. Self love seems at times self indulgent and at other times downright impossible.
But self love is neither of those things. Self love is necessary.
Loving Kindness Meditation
The essence of Metta, loving kindness meditation, is to project a blessing of loving kindness first to the self and then to all four corners of the world. The goal is to wish safety, peace and the absence of suffering to all.
Start a loving kindness meditation by extending loving kindness towards yourself. Next, offer the blessing to loved ones, friends and family. Then extend the loving kindness to acquaintances and strangers. Then offer the blessing to people you have difficulty with, people who have wronged or hurt you. Finally, extend the loving kindness across the globe.
Tips for Loving Kindness Meditation:
1. Start by finding a comfortable place to sit, and gently close the eyes.
2. Bring your awareness to the breath. Inhale and exhale through the nose. Feel you belly, ribcage and chest filling with breath.
3. Inhale for a count of three, hold the breath for a second, exhale, for a count of three.
4. Create a mental picture of yourself as a child, and love that child. Imagine yourself as a child, happy and smiling. Create a mental picture of your positive qualities. Extend love to your inner child, and to yourself.
5. Offer an affirmation, or a positive statement, or repeat an internal mantra such as "loving kindness".
6. Focus on the feeling of loving kindness. Use your mental picture or mantra to strengthen the feeling.
7. Repeat the meditation for loved ones and strangers and eventually extend your loving kindness to those you have difficulty with and across the globe.
Remember, loving kindness meditation does not belong merely on your cushion. Take that love out into the world.
(*** This article also appeared on Young And Raw)