I like many people struggle to embrace the idea that kindness must be first practiced towards oneself before it can be authentically shared towards others. Yesterday an insight hit me upside the head….I have been the boss I would hate. Being self employed means yes you get to be your own boss but what if sometimes you become the boss you would love to complain to a co-worker about? The kind of boss you would love to share some choice words with? I won’t bore you with the sad story of an over-achiever continuously recovering type A personality. What I will share is I, like a lit of people type A or not, have difficulty fully embracing loving energy towards myself. You say “oh but you are a therapist, you teach yoga, what’s up with that?” I say “please we are all human and everyone knows those of us in the helping fields are often in need of our own help.” The key is becoming just that humble to take your own advice.
I first learned about loving kindness medtation, also known as metta, from reading the Dali Lama’s book “The Art of Happiness” many years ago. That book is amazing and was passed back and forth between myself, my father and friends. I then found it again through hearing Sharon Salzburg speak at a Harvard Medical School conference on meditation and psychotherapy. In her book “The Force of Kindness” she writes “kindness is compassion in action.” Very true. I have enjoyed her books and CDs but my favorite teachings on metta have been from Noah Levine, creator of Dharma Punx. Noah’s words, for me, were most meamingful because he speaks from a place of realism rather than academia. He is a person in recovery from drug addiction and the criminal life that this often entails. Through Buddhist teachings he has found his way to a loving and peaceful life. He is the real deal; raw and loving. Authentic in every sense of the word and embraces the Buddha’s teachings on a deep level. Metta is mantra meditation that brings a focus to the concept of wishing safety, happiness, health and life with ease. Fairly simple right? Uh ya if you send it outward to people you love. But the suggestion is that you begin with sending it towards yourself first before anyone else. Oooo that’s a LITTLE more challenging, right? Why though? I don’t ask that for deep introspective thoughts per se but more to help us ponder how we have gotten so far away from caring for ourselves. We are a society that’s filled with self absorption right? All the time that is spent posting on Facebook every little thought or action we engage in. But we can’t seem to take the time to be curious, loving and kind to ourselves. That is seen for people who are wealthy or don’t have kids or don’t have the stress you have, right? Our society has become so overscheduled that we have no time to care for ourselves. This causes a lot of people to look outward towards food, relationships, material things to make them happy. I know this, I am human too. Happiness is in the new Iphone or the piece of chocolate cake not within. That’s the message we take in. Hmmmm those are some Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy as said on SNL DEEP THOUGHTS.
Instead of spending too much time navel gazing and tearing that insight up into its tiniest particles what if we began to, for the moment, just for today, take a deep breath and do one small act of kindness towards ourselves? Just one small thing. I like that idea. Simple, manageable and a step in the direction of being the boss I want to work for. I think I will start with embracing that it’s a holiday week and give my tired brain a break. I will buy a fashion mag, go to the beach, and chill. How about you? What nice kind thing could you do for yourself today, this week even, that may make a small difference in your life? I leave you with the Buddha’s words of wisdom….
May you be safe, May you be happy, May you be healthy, May you live with ease.