"Loving-Kindness is a profound recognition that our lives have something to do with one another, that everyone counts, everyone matters."
~ Sharon Salzberg
Welcome to February, a month to celebrate Loving-Kindness. Tender & benevolent affection towards yourself may not come naturally & can feel odd, but truly, it's incredibly important. It's a lesson that I have had to learn & re-learn again & again. Your loving-kindness cannot be either loving or kind if it does not include yourself.
Practicing loving-kindness is a radical act of love that can be profoundly healing for yourself & for others. Every single thing you do comes from within you - taking care of & loving others, doing good works in the world & giving selflessly, all take place because you love & take care of yourself. I've heard the analogy like this: Imagine yourself as a beautiful natural body of spring water. The more cared for, strong, pure & loved the spring water is, the higher quality the water will be. If you leave a spring to crumble & fill with debris & dirt, it likely will produce poor quality water or no water at all.
There are many ways in which we can take care of ourselves & practice loving kindness. Each thought that you have holds power. That is true for both good thoughts & negative ones. When you arise in the morning, feeling gratitude for the day, notice your thoughts. Check in with how you feel. Give yourself some loving-kindness in the ways you talk to yourself, when your feet touch the ground, when you brush your teeth, when you wash your face, when you look in the mirror, when you smile. It's a practice.
We'll practice a Metta meditation this month. This is a conscious practice of cultivating loving-kindness towards yourself, a good friend, a neutral person, a difficult person & finally, sending loving-kindness towards all beings. The first person you send loving-kindness to is yourself. You are not able to give to others what you do not have for yourself. Your ability to love is only as deep as the love you feel for yourself - this is intricately connected.
This meditation continues, consciously sending loving-kindness to a good friend, someone close to you. This one may feel easy, like a gift. Next, the neutral person. Someone who you see regularly, but don't really know perhaps even their name. This may also feel easy, as they are united in humanity with you & your lives intertwine in this simple way. Then, a difficult person, which is the most challenging of all. Some people are not easy to like or to love. Sending loving-kindness to this person may be most remarkable of all. The last is sending loving-kindness to all.
There are many variations of the same prayer, going through each & just modifying the "I" & replacing it with "you." I love this particular one, but I encourage you to find the right words that speak to you, straight from your heart.
May (I/you) be well.
May (I/you) be happy.
May (I/you) be blessed with peace.
Practicing this meditation is profound. It brings about a sense of being more connected & loving towards others, as well as recognizing how important it is to feel love for ourselves.
You are loved. Right now, as you are, this very moment. You are worthy of this love. You were created to receive & to share this love. Allow yourself to feel this love, without restraint, without reserve, wholly & unapologetically. You are deserving of this.
Cradle in your heart immense feelings of love & acceptance & kindness for yourself, without judgement. Offer yourself the sacred space to share this loving-
kindness to those around you, a well of water, nourishing & pure, washing over others, a world filled with love.
You are loved.
You are love.