Most of us find it difficult to cultivate loving-kindness towards ourselves. We find it difficult because we’ve been conditioned to think it’s selfish. We learn that it’s more important to be kind to others. I don’t disagree with the practice of being kind to others, but I believe those two practices can exist in the same bowl.
When this idea is first presented, we may feel lost, unsure of where to start. Perhaps we may find it difficult to feel loving-kindness towards those parts of ourselves that we’re not fond of. Those parts may present as procrastination, anger, fear or shame. Yet these neglected parts of us need the most loving-kindness.
Pema Chodron says, “The parts that are the toughest to be kind to, are the painful parts, where we feel ashamed as if we don’t belong, as if we’ve just blown it when things are falling apart for us. Maitri, or loving-kindness, means sticking with ourselves when we don’t have anything when we feel like a loser. And it becomes the basis for extending the same unconditional friendliness with others.”
So how do we do it?
These are some ways we cultivate loving-kindness towards ourselves
- We slow down
- We breathe
- We meditate
- We move our bodies
- We eat nutritious food
- We get enough sleep
- We forgive ourselves
- We pause before we react
- We speak to ourselves kindly
- We make time to do what we enjoy
- We pay attention to our thoughts and feelings