When we sit in meditation is it for our own benefit? Yes. Does this seem selfish? On the surface, it may seem so. However, when we sit in loving kindness for our own self we practice self-love. When we start to care for our own self and acknowledge that we as individuals deserve kindness and respect, we create an outward ripple effect; a positive ripple effect. We are all connected. An injustice to one person also has a ripple effect; a negative ripple effect. Social media and news serve to connect us and let us know when one person is hurting. It also serves to fuel anger, resentment, and hate.
When I woke up this morning I felt anger and sadness – residual effects from yesterday’s abysmal news of yet another death at the hands of law enforcement. Other news stories and the current state of our divided communities here in the United States also affected my mood. This country is a place I currently do not recognize. I feel anger, fear, sadness, and a little hopeless that we are sinking into chaos and disunity.
I’m a new meditation practicer and with my Calm app, I usually do the daily meditation in the morning upon waking up and then another one before I go to bed in the evening. I did not feel in the mood for it at all this morning. And honestly, I wrestled with my mind for most of it. Why am I sitting here trying to do this when there is so much unrest and suffering? I learned a new term – Bodhisattva.
The bodhisattva is someone who vows to share the benefits of their meditation practice with all living beings. The suffering of others is not really separate from our own. We all know how one person’s rude remark can impact us – perhaps for a day – perhaps it triggers a deep-seated hurt. In turn, this can make us cranky towards others and so on it goes – a ripple effect of negativity. So when we choose to sit in meditation and get quiet – take a beat and sit with our emotions we may not feel the peace we desire immediately but it starts to move us there. There is an intention set in us to perhaps go out into the world again and to try and be kinder to those we come into contact with; to try and practice more patience and respect with each other. If we can help make someone else’s day less painful then they, in turn, will not be as likely to snap at the next person.
The term bodhisattva is rooted in Buddhism and describes an individual who has reached enlightenment and serves to help others also reach enlightenment. An individual who cultivates empathy, awareness, and compassion for all living beings.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Since it’s Valentine’s Day I’d like to reflect on love. Seems appropriate doesn’t it? How do you feel about the word love? It certainly brings up many preconceived ideas. Romance, affection, loyalty, honesty, trust etc. Who do we love? Families, friends, our pets, our husbands, wives, or life partners. How do we demonstrate love? Hugs, a kind word, encouragement, trust, honesty, and even just being there.
What about ourselves? Do we practice self-love? What does it mean? I’m talking about being kind to yourself, knowing yourself i.e. your strengths and weaknesses, respecting yourself, and taking care of you. Erich Fromm wrote about the concept of self-love in 1956 in a book called The Art of Loving He postulated that in order for one to express love to others, one must first demonstrate love to themselves. This is different from selfishness or arrogance.
To me it means eating right; taking time out for our health. If you think about it we are no good to anyone else if we are not healthy ourselves first and foremost. Also, knowing how we want to be treated by others and letting them know is another way to express love of ourselves. I am not so good with this one. There are a couple of people in my life who need to treat me better. I know this, maybe they know this, but I have not made it clear to them so the status quo remains. The take home message for me is that I need to stand up for myself better. It’s a work in progress. We may all have works in progress going on. The main thing is being aware. At least I am aware, right?
So, a few treats for ourselves from ourselves today might be:
- Create a self-love ritual: this may be something such as taking a bath with Epsom salts and your favorite essential oil. One of my favorites is lavender.
- Build a community: build a community or network of positive people. We need those who are positive and encouraging to lean on when times are tough.
- Create a “What’s Working For Me” list: jot down all the things that you do which are positive.
- Respect your body: eat nutritionally and mindfully. Nutrient-rich foods will get you feeling great.
- Clean out your closet: this is something I need to do. Get rid of the clutter and make space for new and positive adventures.
- Don’t compare yourself to others: this is incredibly hard because there are things which we could compare ourselves to everywhere! However, this will only invite negativity. We are where we are and who we are and we need to accept this and be grateful for what we do have.
- Explore your spirituality: build faith in something. Having faith in something helps with intuition and gut instinct.
- Do something you are good at: the best way to build self-esteem! If you aren’t feeling so great pull out one of those hobbies and lose yourself in it for a few hours. By the end you will have created something and feel great.
- Find your happy place: maybe it’s sitting in the back yard with a good book. Perhaps it’s gardening, watching a movie, or meditating.
- Learn how to let go: some days it’s easier than others; and some situations are tougher than others. However, holding on to past hurts keeps us locked in the past. Focus on forgiveness and let go of these things.
(This list was evolved from an article found on the great website MindBodyGreen).
Here’s to much love and happiness to you on this Valentine’s Day.
To your health,
Image credit: google.com