Yikes! Where do I start with this one??? So, it’s February. Which means the world is switching the script from resolutions and sobriety to the theme of love and relationships. Bugger. What’s more, the main spiel this year seems to focus on the concept of self-love, and as someone who has struggled with finding a sense of self-worth, this is quite a big thing to write about!
When it comes to meditation for self-love, I suppose the first thing I want to say is give yourself a break. We’re already under enough pressure in literally every other area of our lives, so I think guilt around not meditating enough (or even at all) is such a waste of energy.
It’s my personal belief that relationships of any kind can be quite complicated, but when it comes to love – pure, real, universally true love – things are in fact very simple. So with that being the case, my main tip is to totally simplify your approach. By just spending a few minutes in silence, with the eyes closed and an intention to focus on your breath, you will give yourself a chance to find stillness, space and calm any clutter or mental chatter.
It’s easy to think that in order to qualify as ‘self-loving’ your practice needs to involve beautiful, insta-worthy rituals. This really is not the case. Take social media out of the equation and self-love basically means giving a s**t about yourself enough to take care of yourself properly. Personally I think self-love also involves giving yourself a chance to create a narrative in your mind that is in no way derogatory, unfair or counter-productive, but rather supportive, accepting and kind. Needless to say, this takes work.
One particular practice which might help is the Buddhist technique of Loving Kindness Meditation or Benevolence Meditation.
The idea is that you extend positive sentiment to yourself, your loved ones and the wider world by repeating words of love and wishing kind things to yourself and to others. The aim is to help you reframe your perspective and hopefully create a positive impact on the way you’re feeling.
You simply repeat the following phrases in your mind.
1) “May I live with ease. May I be happy. May I be free from suffering.”
2) Extend this sentiment to someone you care about, then to your family and/or community, then to someone you don’t care about or who makes you feel bad (#controversial) and then to every living being.
“May you live with ease. May you be happy. May you be free from suffering.”
3) Return back to yourself:
“May I live with ease. May I be happy. May I be free from suffering.”
Spend a few minutes on each ‘section’ of the meditation. Don’t worry about being too rigid about timings, the more natural it all feels, the better.
I really believe that our true nature is rooted in self-acceptance and love. As Caitlin Moran says in her letter to girls – “You were not born scared and self-loathing and overwhelmed. Things have been done – which means things can be undone”. I also really believe that meditation helps you undo whatever has made you guard your heart and that it gives you an opportunity to get back to your true nature.
When you do manage to practice – great, see it for the positive action that it is. Showing up for yourself is always a good thing. When you don’t manage to fit it in, please don’t make yourself feel worse! Just do your best and plan some time to do a few minutes when you’re next able to. I hope you find this technique helpful.