In Buddhism, there is a meditation practice called metta or loving-kindness. According to the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, “Metta bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation, is a method of developing compassion. It comes from the Buddhist tradition, but it can be adapted and practiced by anyone, regardless of religious affiliation; loving-kindness meditation is essentially about cultivating love.”
Since I began practicing mindfulness and meditation and learning more about the philosophies surrounding its practice, metta has resonated with me particularly. It is my favorite meditation practice, and I think it can be particularly useful for women — especially moms.
Compassion comes naturally to most of us. We care for our children, our spouses, our parents, our friends, our co-workers, our nieces and nephews, our neighbors, even strangers. Metta is not a difficult concept for women. But when you spend a lot of time with women — as most women do — you will hear a common complaint: we spend all this time taking care of other people, but we all wish we were better at taking care of ourselves.
Self-care can mean a lot of things. It can be as simple as taking a minute in a chaotic day to just slow down and breathe. It can mean eating well, exercising more, getting enough sleep. It can mean making time for the things that make you feel happy and calm and centered.
In metta practice, we first focus all of our love and kindness and compassion on ourselves. We must learn to be gentle, kind, and accepting of ourselves before we can learn to generate those feelings for others. It’s like adjusting your own oxygen mask before helping others. I think most women could benefit from a reminder to love ourselves as much as we love others.
For the next few weeks, I will be posting here about some of the things I’ve been learning in my own metta practice. I will be writing about self-care, kindness, and compassionate living. How can we be kinder to ourselves, each other, our kids, our spouses, and the world? How can we be more mindful of the present moment, and help our kids learn to do the same? How can we be happier, calmer, and more fulfilled through these practices?
I am testing these ideas here in the hopes of starting a new project, but I know many of my frugal living readers can benefit from these concepts, too. I hope that you will follow along and chime in!