I would like to talk to you all about love and kindness, from a place of unhappiness.
The ‘Metta-Bhavana’ (translated as ‘loving-kindness’), a type of meditation, is a staple of my personal practice. Because learning self-care, and – eventually – self-love, has been an ongoing fight for me.
It wasn’t face masks, baths with flowers in, or a part-time job reserved for #Sundays.
When I was first taught the 5-stage Metta-Bhavana practice I was encouraged to send loving-kindness to a ‘friend’ first. Then a ‘neutral’ person (someone I knew of by did not know personally). A ‘difficult’ person. And then, to myself – before spending this feeling of love to all beings in the final stage.
It took me several years to realise that this isn’t the traditional order people practice the meditation in! We were only encouraged to practice in this way because people find it so difficult to sit down and think of themselves first. Even though this is where love really begins.
The relationship we have with ourselves, sets the tone for every other relationship we have.
Most of us wouldn’t speak to other people the way that we sometimes speak to ourselves. We hear it all the time: people struggling to accept compliments, or help and openly berating themselves.
Most of us accept things for ourselves that we wouldn’t give to other people, for fear they wouldn’t be good enough.
Most of us say yes to others, and no to ourselves.
Self-Compassion is giving ourselves what we would, most likely, freely offer up to others.
Self-Care is essential.
Self-Love is means we are not giving from our cup, leaving ourselves empty. We are overflowing.
I would like to ask you:
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Make a list – with an old fashioned pen and some paper, or on your phone or computer – of 10 statements starting:
‘I am happy when…’
10 things that are yours and not for anyone else. For example: I am happy when… I eat healthily… I get a good nights sleep… I am spending time outside.
When you have your ‘happy list’, begin turning each point into an instruction.
As if you were turning care of yourself over to another person:
WHAT WOULD THEY NEED TO KNOW?
For example: I need to eat healthily… I must have at least 8 hours sleep… I would like to spend some time outside each day.
These are YOUR care instructions. What you want, and need, to be happy.
The minimum of what you deserve. Everyday.
Treat yourself as you would anyone else in your care. Feed your body and your soul with food that makes you happy, and fills you with pleasure. Spend time doing what you love. Step outside. Tuck yourself into bed on time. Let your self lie-in and take naps, whenever you need to. And please don’t say mean things to yourself, or listen to people who do (media included). Wear what you want to wear. Protect yourself from harm, and keep yourself safe. Be someone that makes you happy.
Here are the tools that we all possess to take care of ourselves.
Each day, we can ask ourselves what we need, and make sure we get it.
Happiness is not a result. Things change, and no one thing will make you happy. It is a constant process. No person will make you happy. No one thing or acheivement. Happiness will not come to you. It will come from you.