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Mindful : June 2015
68 mindful June 2015 Be Kind to Yourself—Right Now People often find some difficulty in car- ing for themselves, in receiving love, in believing they deserve to be happy. Imagine for a moment the amount of energy you expend brooding over the future, ruminating about the past, com- paring yourself to others, judging yourself, worr ying about what might happen nex t. That is a huge amount of energy. Now imagine all of that energy gathered in and returned to you. Underlying our usual patterns of self-preoccupation, stinging self-judgment, and fear is the universal, innate potential for love and awareness. Loving kindness meditations point us back to a place within, where we can cul- tivate love and help it flourish. Developing care toward ourselves is the first objec- tive, the foundation for later being able to include others in the sphere of kindness. This loving kindness practice involves silently repeating phrases that offer good qualities to oneself and to others. Sharon Salzberg has been teaching meditation for over 40 years. She is author most recently of Love Your Enemies and Real Happiness at Work. 1 You can start by tak- ing delight in your own goodness—calling to mind things you have done out of good-hear tedness, and rejoicing in those memories to celebrate the potential for goodness we all share. 2 Silently recite phrases that reflect what we wish most deeply for ourselves in an enduring way. Traditional phrases are: • May I live in safety. • May I have mental happiness (peace, joy). • May I have physical happiness (health, freedom from pain). • May I live with ease. You can use these phrases or others that are more person- ally meaningful to you. Relax and have the phrases emerge gently from your hear t rather than be a pounding insistence in your head. 3 Repeat the phrases with enough space and silence between so they fall into a rhythm that is pleasing to you. Direct your attention to one phrase at a time. 4 Each time you notice your at tention has wandered, be kind to yourself and let go of the distraction. Come back to repeating the phrases without judging or disparaging yourself. 5 After some time, visualize yourself in the center of a circle composed of those who have been kind to you, or have inspired you because of their love. Perhaps you’ve met them, or read about them; perhaps they live now, or have existed historically or even mythically. That is the circle. As you visualize yourself in the center of it, experience yourself as the recipient of their love and attention. Keep gently repeating the phrases of loving kindness for yourself. 6 To close the session, let go of the visualization, and simply keep repeating the phrases for a few more min- utes. Each time you do so, you are transforming your old, hur t- ful relationship to yourself, and are moving for ward, sustained by the force of kindness. ● practices techniques Illustration by Jason Lee For more on mindfulness practice, go to mindful.org/ inpractice. To submit questions about techniques, the workplace, or relationships and home life, email