“You can’t love others until you love yourself.”
I’m not sure of the author of that statement but it’s a frequent quote used in regards to self-love. Is it true? Kinda. But does it invite shame onto people who feel genuine love for others? Most definitely.
When people discuss the notion of “self-love” it conjures up images similar to “self-care.” Manicures, bubble baths and spending sprees are not what constitutes self-love. This post will introduce the idea of self-love PLUS meditation in order to put a humble spin on this concept.
A popular practice in meditation practices is loving-kindness. This is a meditation practice taught by the Buddha to establish a mental habit of selfless love. According to buddhanet.com, it helps produce 4 qualities of love: Friendliness, Compassion, Appreciating Joy and Equanimity.
What are the benefits of loving kindness meditations?
- It cultivates love.
- It’s not dependent on whether you deserve love.
- Loving-kindness meditations can include animals, nature and all living beings.
- Increases empathy
- Helps ease anxiety and anger.
- Has a positive impact on negative thought patterns.
- Safe meditative practice to use with children.
In my therapy work, there are different versions of the meditation that can be useful, but may also be triggering. For instance, the basic meditation asks you to send peaceful thoughts to four different areas: a respected person, a beloved family or friend, a neutral person and someone you feel hostility towards. Although this meditation shouldn’t trigger anger or traumas, it may be safer to choose someone who annoys you rather than someone you hate. If you have your own forgiveness practices, it’s best to work with a therapist or spiritual guide to assist you with this.
Once you send peaceful and loving vibes to others, you send the same love to yourself. Remember, this meditation is not dependent on whether you feel you deserve love. This mindful practice is a safe way to challenge the negative junk in our heads and replace it with loving kindness.
If affirmations and quotes aren’t your thing, this is a gentle way to practice sitting still with our thoughts and take control of what enters our mind.
“But loving-kindness – maitri – toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness….Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already.” – Pema Chodron, Awakening Loving-Kindness
I have included two YouTube loving-kindness meditation videos for you to sample at your leisure. Find a quiet place and see what sensations you feel in your body after completing these meditations.
If you’re a healer, empath, therapist, social worker, counselor, school personnel or recovery therapist, the first YouTube meditation is for YOU! If you give space for people to be vulnerable and heal, it’s important to give back to yourself as well. Send me a message on social media and let me know how this meditation manifested for you!
And may you continue to care for yourself in this world, joyously and peacefully.