The first practice I want to share is just feeling what I call self esteem that comes from practice.
In other words, when someone compliments you, it’s a nice feeling. If I’m playing soccer and I make a good play and someone says “Good job!” I feel self esteem. Until I miss a really important shot and everyone is disappointed in me and I leave the field feeling really sad.
So that is the notion of conditional confidence or conditional self esteem. It’s conditional upon whether or not we feel appreciated or seen, or whether we feel we deserve it. This is so fascinating.
Coming out of Tibetan culture the teachings said that fundamentally you are worthwhile just because you exist. Not because you’ve done anything. Just the way you are is beautiful.
How do we feel that, not just think it but feel it in our whole body?
Take a comfortable posture. This is a visualization practice, we’re using our imagination, we could even say a sensualization practice, because it’s not just visual, it’s our whole body.
You might imagine, if you like, a feeling of warmth or love in your heart, you could even imagine a little sun, or an ember, anything that would shine light, shine care.
Just imagine that little light, slowly expanding down, filling up your torso, coming up and filling up your skull, your hair follicles, filling up your arms and fingers, all the way down to your legs and feet, just have a light sense of that shining, circulating that light.
If you can, imagine or feel that it is love itself, it is care, it is esteem, it is wellbeing, shining, filling up your body.
Any thoughts that come up while you’re doing that, imagine they are subsumed in this gentle light.
You’re filling up your body with gentleness and light. When you get distracted, just continue to imagine the light surrounding thoughts and feelings, filling up our entire body.
This light or warmth has a gracefulness, total acceptance of whatever arises within it.
As we do this, we might notice a sense of softening. Ideally we’re feeling sympathy for ourselves, but if that is a stretch, just even being kind to ourselves, but at least trying to feel that.
Coming in contact with our own tenderness, maybe it’s a little bit tender or vulnerable to care about ourselves, or feel ourselves. Maybe it feels wonderful. Whatever comes up, just bringing kindness to that.
Place your hand on your heart. You could even give yourself a little hug if you want.
This is part of an ongoing series. Stay tuned for Part 6!
Maitri For Our Time Part 1
Maitri For Our Time Part 2
Maitri For Our Time Part 3
Maitri For Our Time Part 4
Maitri For Our Time Part 5
Maitri For Our Time Part 6
Maitri For Our Time Part 7
Maitri For Our Time Part 8