Sometimes people forget that they need to befriend themselves. Until we care for ourselves, and until we are at ease with who we are, we will not be at peace, and we will not be free to give all of our heart to others. If we are hard on ourselves, we allow our experiences to harden our hearts.
Here is a simple exercise to remind yourself that you deserve kindness too...
Many of us are more likely to practice meanness rather than kindness toward ourselves. We judge ourselves remorselessly, making unreasonable demands on ourselves and offering no quarter when we fall short. We would never treat someone we cared about in this way. Offering kindness toward ourselves is an invaluable practice and one that cannot be done too often. People often worry that they feel nothing when doing practices like this, but that is okay. There is no expectation to feel anything in particular, and you should simply continue. Just as a seed grows and puts down roots under the soil long before we see any sign of leaves above ground, so change is happening inside us before we notice any obvious sign of it. If you do this practice regularly, you will notice a difference. This practice is commonly done as a sitting practice.
Sit in a posture in which you feel alert yet relaxed, grounded, and stable.
Begin by taking a few moments to connect with the breath. Place your attention wherever in the body you feel the breath most strongly, and just notice the physical sensations of breathing. Remember that the breath is your home base—the place to come back to if at any time things get difficult or you lose your way.
If you would like to, place one hand over the heart. Take a few moments to feel the connection of palm to chest— noticing the sensations of contact, temperature, and movement.
Now, begin repeating two or three phrases such as: “May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be well.”
Make up phrases that particularly resonate with you. Repeat each phrase silently, noticing any reverberations in terms of thoughts, emotions and sensations felt in the body; noticing any pull of “moving toward,” or any resistance or “pushing away.” Whatever you notice is simply feedback and an acknowledgment of how things are right now.
Continue for as long as you want to.
For more exercises and tips on practicing kindness, check out The Little Pocket Book of Kindness by Lois Blyth.