In a yoga retreat last Fall, the last class I attended called for the students to participate in a loving-kindness meditation. I've done meditations like this many times for people I know, people I barely know, people I love, and even for people whom I intensely dislike.
In my experience, the meditation simply consisted of kind thoughts spoken aloud for another person. I was unskilled enough at yoga to realize that part of this meditation sometimes includes kind thoughts directed towards yourself.
We began by thinking nice thoughts towards other people. Great! Wonderful!
And then it became a little personal:
May I be free from inner and outer harm and danger.
May I be safe and protected.
May I be free of mental suffering or distress.
May I be happy.
May I be free of physical pain and suffering.
May I be healthy and strong.
May I be able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease.
At the time, I was going through some physical issues, certainly had safety issues, and oh so much self doubt. I could not say these words for myself. I cried quietly while the rest of the class wished themselves well. In that moment, I was surprised by the depth of my self-hatred. I couldn't think the words and mean them.
Today I mean every one of them. I can say them with as much care as I say them for you.
Additionally, I stumbled across a reading this morning that I'd like to share. I love it. (I don't think the creator of this big, wide world is necessarily female though...)
The Mother of the Universe refuses to let me worship her outside myself anymore. She's withdrawn inside me and tells me if I want to know her, I have to come inside too (which is the last place I want to be). Although she's been telling me this for years, she's never gone to this extreme before of actually hiding inside me. If I want to love her, I can only do it by loving myself now. -Cassia Burman