Today I want to encourage you to stop trying to change yourself.
Isn’t it exhausting?
Every December I notice my inbox is bombarded with a relentless array of life changing ecourses that will finally help me to fix my broken self.
Are you feeling it too? I’m really tired of this cultural push insisting that we’re not okay.
I have confidence that we are. I have confidence in all of you.
No matter how you came into my orbit, through retreating, coaching or yoga, I believe that we are journeying together in the spirit of okay-ness.
For that reason, I felt that it was important to share with you a teaching from my ecourse Santosha.
It’s simple and easy and it will remind you of how good you already are.
This teaching doesn’t suggest that you aren’t already ok.
It’s framed in the teachings of Maitri or Loving-Kindness.
I believe that one reason we might not be able to bring this practice into our life is because we don’t really understand the teaching and how it actually works. And the reason for that is because there is too much data, too many offerings, and there isn’t time to focus on the simplicity of one or two practices that actually help in daily life.
To that I say, please, try to unload the need to be a seeker 24/7.
How about becoming a knower?
Maitri is the Sanskrit word for loving-kindness and it embodies friendship and generosity and acts of love. We direct this Maitri towards ourselves, viewing ourselves with compassion and love.
We all have daily frustrations.
Wherever we are on our spiritual journey, life gets in the way. All kinds of influences can take us off course. Sometimes our own moods or lack of energy can derail us.
When this happens, we can allow ourself to be curious about any subtle aggression against who we really are.
We can raise our consciousness about the ways in which we are trying to do everything “the right way” so that we can be ahead of the game or so that all will go “according to plan?”
These are the areas in which we need loving-kindness to extend fully into our lives. When we give ourself permission to receive love even when frustrations with our practice arise, we experience a softening.
It is when we soften that a shift will most likely occur in our practice.
Hardening into change or forcing never feels right.
You know this pattern. You have probably experienced it. You start something new, go really hard at it and then at some point, you crash and burn. It wasn’t sustainable because it was too aggressive or because it had no heart.
It wasn’t in the spirit of self-love or kindness.
When we stay on this path towards loving-kindness, we are not guaranteeing that life will not be difficult. We cannot be certain that things will always go smoothly or that we’ll never hurt or feel angry anymore.
Loving-kindness (Maitri) toward ourselves doesn’t mean improving or pushing too hard. Maitri means we still have issues. We are not trying to throw our current selves away and replace them with something better. Instead, we listen carefully to our hearts. We want to make good friends with who we are, right here and now.
Loving-kindness is a fresh approach that will ground our practice. We ground in who we are in our current state, without pressure or self-loathing.
In the Buddhist tradition, we are all said to possess basic goodness. This way of thinking gives us a beautiful way to approach our whole self. It encourages us not to separate, divide and conquer.
In meditation, think of loving-kindness as the light on the path.
As we explore and expand, we are moving toward the light, staying in the light, returning to the light. Soon we will begin to know how to return to the light when the going gets tough.
Allow yourself time today to practice slowing down and reflecting on one way you can be kinder to yourself, here and now.
What is coming up? How does your body feel? What is your general mood? What do you desire the most? Where can you allow more loving-kindness in your practice?