Today I’d like to share with you the word Maitri. Maitri translates to loving kindness. More specifically loving kindness to oneself and others. What draws me to Maitri is the depth of which it speaks to giving unconditional love to ourselves. That it allows for us to be human in the entire spectrum of what being human means.
I first discovered the idea of Loving Kindness when I was in my teacher training a few years ago. We talked about and practiced Metta or Tonglen Meditation that focuses purely on sending loving kindness to ourselves and others and it is extremely powerful. I realize that for some, the idea of sending loving kindness to ourselves and others might sound very peace love and rainbows, but it takes a tremendous amount of strength to soften enough to love others but even more so, ourselves unconditionally. As one of my favorite writers Waylon Lewis (who writes and talks frequently on Maitri) says, ‘it isn’t lovey-dovey, hippie-dippie, it’s truly tough stuff.’ As a testament to how tough it can actually be, a lot of the time with Loving Kindness meditation, that typically begins with sending loving kindness to ourselves, the meditator has to begin with the second part of the meditation where you send loving kindness to someone you love and come back to yourself afterward. That’s impactful if you stop and think about it. That means we completely bypass ourselves….If I was making this into a video this is where the dramatic pause would be….But really, that’s a big deal.
I recently stumbled across one of Waylon’s short videos on Maitri. In this particular one, (there are several) he talks about how we can fall in love with ourselves. Not in an egotistical way, but in a way that we find acceptance in ALL the parts that make up who we are. The likeable and the difficult. That we allow ourselves to ease into the tender hearted lonely parts, the confused parts, the aggressive parts, the clingy parts, the confused parts, the sense of loss of ourselves and the bold brash parts of ourselves.
For me personally this is relief filled. It means that we get to take note of the messy parts of us, our over emotional and thinks too much parts (this girl right here 🙋🏼♀️), our perfectionism parts, our angry parts, our need for control parts, our co-dependent parts just as much as the parts that come easy. That we can instead of feeling shame and pushing them aside, soften into them in ways that are productive and kind and compassionate. After all, we are ready and willing to give unconditional love to the ones we hold dear. Why shouldn’t we hold ourselves in the same regard?
‘Maitri toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy after all these years. We can still be angry after all these years. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. The point is not to try and throw ourselves away and become something different. It’s about befriending who we already are. The beginning of the practice is you or me or whoever we are right now. That’s the ground. That’s what we study.’
And maybe the reason we have a hard time with Maitri toward ourselves is because the work is hard. Loneliness for example is a tough feeling. It’s sad, it’s heartbreaking, it can feel like a ton of bricks on your chest at times, but it’s in the messiness that there is magic and strength. And how would we ever know what the joy of contentment and happiness can feel like if we don’t allow the loneliness to be felt and experienced and understood. Sitting with these feelings is where we meet ourselves, it’s in this sitting, that we start to realize that these difficult feelings gives us strength. It’s where we begin to give ourselves the love that we deserve.
Happy Wednesday. Be well Friends. ♥️
Here are a few resources if you’d like to learn more
Loving kindness Meditation
Waylon Lewis- Falling in love with ourselves