Do you have a love hangover?
Sometimes I hear Hallmark platitudes disguised as meditation and it pisses me off.
Even the sentiment, “may you live with ease” annoys me.
It feels unrealistic for many people, who are struggling with real systemic inequity, and it can be alienating. That’s not what meditation is about. Even mettā meditation, which is a practice of giving ourselves loving kindness and then extending it out, is not supposed to be sappy or unattainable.
Your current state of mind is the best place to start your practice.
You don’t need to be calm before you begin, because you are already ready, just as you are. An effective loving kindness practice will to meet you right where you are, and help you feel more self-regulated and less isolated.
My struggles have shaped me.
When life is hard, we want it to be easier. Of course I would LOVE a little more ease and breathing room in my life, but I’d never want to give up ALL of my struggles. I can help others because I have been there. While I haven’t experienced racism, and have a ton of privilege now, my childhood challenges and current struggles are real and I don’t dismiss them.
In fact, I embrace them.
I am emotionally resilient because I have responded to complex trauma and generational anxiety with a desire to change. I am a cycle breaker, advocate for disability justice, yoga teacher, and a writer because I have not always lived with of ease.
So, I made up a new loving kindness practice, based on one I saw on Instagram (my favorite love/hate cauldron of sappy platitudes and unbridled creativity that bubbles furtively 24/7).
It’s a simple practice of loving kindness that acknowledges the injustice inherent in our culture, while inviting more breathing room and connection.
Try it out. And please, make it your own.
When you are grounded in self-love, it helps all of us.
Put a hand on your heart. Breathe in and out of your heart.
Repeat these phrases, saying them first to yourself:
💕 May you be healthy, and when you’re not healthy may you have the right to affordable healthcare.
💕 May you be peaceful, and at ease. And when you struggle, may you remember that you’re not alone.
💕 May you take care of yourself wisely. And when you can’t, may you recognize the systemic obstacles you face, and give yourself grace.
💕 May you love yourself infinitely. And when self-criticism arises, may you have a practice to return to the love that you are.
This practice is not a performance! If it feels unattainable, or your eyes are rolling inwardly, change it until you feel a small opening to let in warmth to your heart.
Start by receiving these words into your own heart. Adapt them so they feel authentic to you.
Next, extend the phrases to someone you love unconditionally. For parents, this is often the most comfortable place to remain.
Expand your scope. Pick someone you barely know, then someone you have a complicated relationship with.
Extend that love outward as far as you can today. Let that be enough. Today, tomorrow, or next week: try extending loving kindness to all beings.
Notice how you feel after practicing mettā, loving kindness, in a non-sappy way.
It’s easy to practice loving kindness when we’re experiencing ease.
The work is to return to the practice no matter what, even in the midst of the struggle. Even when facing down injustice. Even when we’re justifiably angry.
If you resonate with my values of respect, empathy, equity, and inclusion, I’m so glad you’re here. Get on the waitlist for the Compassion Club so we can continue working together.
A version of this meditation was originally posted on my substack newsletter for parents of neurodivergent kids: Atypical Kids, Mindful Parents Blog. Please follow me there if you want to feel more connected, calm and present!
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