Everybody wants to love and be loved (the understatement of the century, right?). We wish to be nice to people around us even though sometimes we just forget how. But most importantly is that we almost always forget how to be nice to ourselves, how to love ourselves. We are our own worst enemies; always judging and self-criticizing, always feeling not good enough, not smart enough”… Just not enough, period. Yet, we cannot expect to love others and others to love us if we do not learn to love and accept ourselves first.
However, we should not confuse self-love with narcissism. Self-love is accepting and respecting ourselves with all our strengths and weaknesses. It’s not being arrogant or conceited and it’s not having this ideal image of who we wish we are and trying to match up to it the rest of our lives. It’s just loving and accepting who we truly are. By doing that, we can then really love others for who they really are as well.
Whenever you are feeling guilty and self-critical or beating yourself up over something you shouldn’t have done but did anyway or something you didn’t do but should have, this loving heart meditation can be useful. It is a loving-kindness meditation that will put you in touch with your silent, non-judgmental, always loving inner self.
Choose a comfortable seated meditation position (in lotus, half-lotus, cross-legged or simply seated in a chair with a straight back). Bring your focus to your breath and allow your body and mind to start slowly relaxing for a few minutes. Feel your jaws, your face, your neck and shoulders relaxing. Feel your inhalations and exhalations getting longer and smoother. Whenever a thought comes to your mind, just let it pass and bring back the focus to your breath.
Turn inwards towards your heart and observe your inner child. Note your thoughts, emotions, all the sensations in your body as well as any feeling of shame or guilt. Let any emotions of deception surface as they may. Just observe any feeling that you might have about being unworthy of love.
Now concentrate on your inner parent. As if you are a loving, affectionate parent, observe your suffering inner child. Observe this child having all the negative emotions, yet so perfect and so worthy of unconditional love.
Accept your inner child as it is, totally, unconditionally. Look at him the same way an affectionate parent would look at his child. Feel your heart overflowing with love for this aching child. Feel compassion towards his pain, and with all the love and affection, acknowledge all his wonderful qualities and strengths as well as all his weaknesses. Just open your heart and hug this child, just the way he is, with all the love and compassion that you have.
Bring both hands and place them on your heart chakra or the heart center (located in the middle of your chest next to your physical heart) and feel them embracing your inner self. Stay for a few moments more enjoying this feeling of unconditional love and acceptance. Just give yourself the love that you try to seek from others, the love that you deserve.