“May I be happy, may I live in peace; may I be strong, may I live with ease.”
My acupuncturist (a LIFESAVER in addressing blasted peri-menopause symptoms!) gave me this meditation during my last appointment that she described as “creating puddles of love.” First say it to yourself for a bit, and then, moving out in ripples, to those whom you hold very close (loved ones), then to others who are close (friends), and then to those who are close, but you aren’t particularly feeling the love for right now.
She said, “You’d be surprised at how powerful it is to say this to someone you are challenged by right now. It releases so many things.” On her way out of the room, she added, “Be sure to say it to yourself A LOT first!”
I said it to myself a couple of times and quickly moved on to my family. So much easier to think loving thoughts for them, rather than myself! I realized this and went back to me a couple of more times and moved on again.
When I got to the “challenged by” ripple, the puddles became a murky mess. As soon as I started on it, self-shaming began. As I held someone in kindness, I jumped to thinking the challenge with this person must be because of MY personal failings.
Then I started getting a little agitated and argued with myself, “Of course, it always takes two to tango – this conflict is not entirely my doing or because of my ‘failings’.” Not very meditative! I needed to start over with myself. Again.
Why is it so much harder to express self-love than self-loathing?
I had coffee with a friend, and we talked a little about it. We agreed that it’s so easy for some women (including me) to hold on tightly – and I mean TIGHTLY – to negative thoughts about ourselves. Even when, intellectually at least, we know they aren’t true.
This is particularly evident with body image. I see it in me. My clients. My friends. Young women. Older women. Elderly women. Me.
A funny and thought-provoking video short where bestselling-author and speaker Brené Brown discusses blame nails it. We blame others – and we blame ourselves – because it’s easier to blame than to let go of the illusion of control. Letting go of negative thoughts lets go of control, which makes us feel vulnerable. Even when we’re letting go of something negative.
To embrace the idea of being beautiful, no matter our body type, weight, height, age, etc., is to be vulnerable. And that is hard.
We get constant messages that tell us we aren’t beautiful unless [fill in the blank]. To claim my own beauty in the context of those messages makes me feel vulnerable. “What if I’m wrong?” “What if I’m deluding myself, and everyone knows it but me?” It’s easier just to hold on to those negative messages.
Instead, try the self-love mantra: “May I be happy, may I live in peace; may I be strong, may I live with ease.” Consciously allow yourself to feel happiness, peace, strength, and ease. To do so means accepting yourself for who you are, right now. It feels vulnerable, and it also feels really, really good.