Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Special Valentine's Day Post by Guest Writer Jennifer Smiecinski
What about loving YOURSELF?
There are lots of types of love in the world. There’s romantic love; love for our parents and children; our pets; love for cheesecake; our favorite television show; our favorite pair of fuzzy sweat pants…the list goes on and on. We often overlook the most important love- love for ourselves. You may be thinking, “What?!? That’s selfish!” but hang in here with me for just a minute…
Many of us live such busy lives, always going from one thing to the next. We spend so much time caring for others that we often get bumped to the bottom of our “to-do” list or feel guilty when we partake in some time for self-love. The funny thing about that is when we truly love ourselves we can open our hearts and love others more fully.
We show ourselves love by being compassionate with ourselves. Forgiving ourselves (and forgiving others); letting go of things we can’t control; slowing down; spending time in nature; nourishing our bodies with healthy food; staying hydrated; getting some exercise; and spending time in meditation.
What does meditation have to do with it? You may be surprised… One of my favorite meditation techniques is Metta, or , loving-kindness meditation. One of the things I enjoy about this meditation is that it starts with ME! I certainly can’t forget to include myself when I am first on the list.
Here’s how it works:
Find a comfortable seat- sit with a tall spine, gently close your eyes, your jaw should be relaxed and parallel to the floor. Hands should rest comfortably on your legs- palms up or down. You shouldn’t feel like you are working so hard, be comfortable- sit on a cushion or pillow if it makes you feel more at ease.
Begin to shift your focus to your breath. Take a few breaths here and notice how it feels as it enters and exits your nose. Is it warm? Is it cool? Allow your mind to be quiet.
When you feel ready- bring an image of yourself to your mind. Your mind could possibly recall an image of you as a child, an image of you as you are at present, or somewhere in between. Imagine that you are sitting face to face with yourself, look into your own eyes, and repeat quietly in your mind… “May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be well. May I be peaceful. May I be happy.” Take a few deep breaths here and feel your heart begin to expand as it fills with love.
The second step is calling to mind an image of someone who you love deeply. It can be anyone! Your spouse, your children, your parents, your best friend - anyone! Recall time you spent with this person when you felt loved. You can also recall a time when this person taught you something or did something really wonderful for you. Imagine you are sitting face to face with this person and repeat quietly in your mind, “May he/she be filled with loving-kindness. May he/she be well. May he/she be peaceful. May he/she be happy.” Take a few deep breaths here and feel your heart grow larger.
The third step is calling to mind someone in your life who is neutral to you… It could be someone who you see regularly like the barista at Starbucks, the mailman, or a grocery store clerk. Again, imagine you are sitting face to face with this person and repeat quietly in your mind, “May he/she be filled with loving-kindness. May he/she be well. May he/she be peaceful. May he/she be happy.” Take a few deep breaths here and feel your heart grow even larger.
The next person you will call to mind is a “difficult person” in your life. It doesn’t have to be someone you necessarily dislike. It could even be someone who has done harm in the world. This one may be tricky but, trust me, this will free up room in your heart where you have held onto negative feelings and will make room for more love. Imagine you are sitting face to face with this person and repeat quietly in your mind, “May he/she be filled with loving-kindness. May he/she be well. May he/she be peaceful. May he/she be happy.” Take a few deep breaths here and feel your heart expand beyond the limit of your imagination.
Lastly, call to mind everyone everywhere… I know this can feel like a lofty goal. It’s hard to imagine ALL of the people in the world. I like to think of the picture of the world with a circle of people around the circumference who are holding hands. That makes it easier for me to imagine. Repeat one last time- “May everyone everywhere be filled with loving-kindness. May everyone everywhere be well. May everyone everywhere be peaceful. May everyone everywhere be happy.” Take a few deep breaths here and notice how connected you feel to all of these people you just called to mind.
One of the best things about this meditation is that it is FREE and it can be done anywhere. A loving-kindness meditation will calm your mind and keep you in tune with your heart. And just think, it all started with YOU!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Jennifer is the owner of Emerald City Yoga, located in beautiful Uptown Greenwood. She maintains a blogsite at http://www.emeraldcityyoga.blogspot.com/ If you would like to learn more about meditation, she is offering an Intro to Meditation class on February 23 from 2-3:30. For more information about classes and schedules, visit Emerald City Yoga on Facebook www.facebook.com/EmeraldCityYoga