There is a lot of suffering out there, as well as within our own hearts and minds. But there’s reason for hope. After five decades of searching, learning, and experiencing anything I could find that might help my happiness, I can say that what made the most difference was to calm down enough to pay attention, to talk nicely to myself and find out what was wrong.
I remember taking on the “project” of Self-Love. It sounded like a good idea. I thought it would be simple and would come automatically. But I found it surprisingly difficult, so I decided to start with an easier step: self-niceness. As that left me in a world that treated me better, something deep inside me accepted that I must be worth it genuine. The positive momentum continued from self-kindness to self-compassion and on into Self-Love. It took a long time and a lot of work, acceptance, and surrender. But it was worth every last drop of blood, sweat, and tears.
Here is a simple thing to do as a daily practice or anytime you need it.
Sit calmly and take a few deep breaths. Cross your arms with your hands holding opposite shoulders; left arm higher and right arm below it. As the hands hold on, relax the rest of your body-your face, neck, shoulders, and arms. The body language is a self-hug. If you have ever loved anything, you know the feeling of a hug; call it forth now. Feel cozy and loved within yourself. Breathe long, full breaths that slowly become effortless as you settle in to the hug. Have some gentle uplifting music playing softly, if you wish. Think any positive thought and image and evoke every warm feeling. Let everything else disappear until there is no thought at all, just the feeling that you are safe and loved. Let that melt you away until what is left is beyond feeling. All is well, all is perfect. Behold this awe and reverence for the vastness. Be in pure experience. It is Divine, sacred, pure consciousness.
At some point you will be ready to “come back.” Breathe deeply, stretch, and relax. Can you invite this experience to influence and alter your activity? When you visit it often, it will not be forgotten.
A quote that really embodies this feeling is something my son said at his high school graduation: “I am exactly who I am supposed to be, and that is who I’ve always wanted to be, and I am completely in love with that person” – Har Narayan Khalsa, June 2012.