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Some tips on "Metta" or a guided meditation on self-love

As sping opens its beautiful arms I have the urge to "dig deeper" into my relationship with both prayer and the Shambhala tradition of Buddhism. The following are some of the basics of Meditation practice. You can start your practice anytime, even 5-10 min. a day. But you must be consistent. I'm back to about 20 at least once or sometimes twice a day. Good luck!

1. Setting and Posture

Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Whatever posture you are in, try to have a straight back, with your spine straight but not tense. You can have your eyes open or closed, whichever best supports your practice.

2. Breath and Relaxation

Take a few deep breaths from your stomach (this is sometimes called “diaphragmatic breathing”). If you notice tension anywhere in your body, you can “breathe into” that tension, allowing it to relax as your body breathes. Notice your body and mind begin to settle and relax, and keep breathing deeply until you feel somewhat more settled. (If that’s not happening after a minute or two, that’s fine—move to the next step.)

3. Self-Love Phrases

Based on which of the teachings above connects most easily with you, try bringing into mind one of the following simple phrases:

  • “I wish happiness for myself.” As you say this phrase, actually do wish for yourself to be happy, now and in the future. You can imagine yourself finding the happiness you wish for, and notice any emotions or bodily sensations that this brings up.

  • “I am worthy of love and happiness.” As you say this phrase, consider that you love, that you have hopes and dreams, that you feel joy and sorrow. As a living, loving, aware, feeling being, you have a perfect right to be on this earth, just as you are.

  • “I am basically good.” As you say this phrase, consider yourself to be, simply, good: worthy, worthwhile, as-you-should-be.

You can rotate through these phrases if you like, but in general you might want to stay with, and feel, phrases that most resonate with you, rather than “pondering” or “considering” phrases that don’t resonate as much.

4. Feel Bodily Resonance

As you stay with the phrase or phrases you’ve chosen, feel anything—any senses or emotions—that this brings up in your body. This might be pleasant or unpleasant, whole-body or very closely located, highly emotional or just a simple physical sensation. Simply allow whatever you’re experiencing, without analyzing it too much or trying to fix or improve it.

Our sensations are always changing, so allow this natural flow while staying with the phrase or phrases that connect with you most, and see what happens over a few minutes.

(To repeat a note just for safety: if what you are experiencing feels unsafe or more than mildly uncomfortable, feel free to pause the session. You can try another time, or connect with a meditation instructor or other support person.)

5. Share Self-Love Throughout Your Body

If, after a bit of time, you are feeling some resonance of self-love in your body, such as a feeling of warmth or tenderness, you can share that feeling with (or “move it throughout”) your body. This can help feelings of self-love more fully suffuse our experience, and it can also help us release any tension or resistance in different parts of our body as we attend to them one by one.

This isn’t a difficult or a forced process. It’s more like allowing a glow or warmth, which is initially located mostly in one place, to slowly radiate or spread into each part of your body, as you notice those body parts in sequence.

So if the phrase “I am basically good” is bringing a feeling of warmth in your heart area, you can allow that same warmth to expand slowly, progressively, body part by body part: outward into your shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers; upward into your throat, jaw, face, and head; and downward into your stomach, pelvic floor, seat, thighs, knees, lower legs, ankles, feet, and toes.

Once the sense is full-body, you can simply rest with it.

6. Rest and Conclude

When you’re ready to conclude the session, you can let go of the phrase, and simply notice how your body feels for a few slow breaths. Lastly, you can relax even this noticing, and rest simply for a short while. Then, whenever you’re ready, you can conclude the session.

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