Maitri ... or My Tree... or you don't have to be Buddhist to appreciate a good idea.
This morning's meditation referred to maitri, pronounced my tree - a new word to me and a concept that would be good for me to take to heart. In the simplest terms it means
Unconditional friendliness to oneself.
I know, right? How do we do that? What is it? That's the discovery, isn't it? A Western meditation teacher explained to the Dalai Lama that people in the West are very hard on themselves, and would interpret instruction in a way that they turned it against themselves, with self-criticism, self-loathing, etc. as opposed to becoming inspired or uplifted. This didn't make sense to him so he asked all the other Western teachers at the conference he was attending, and they agreed. The Dalai Lama found it fascinating and said that Westerners have a lack of maitri. Pema Chodron goes on to say that this friendliness and acceptance does not mean living without discipline, but instead it means gently and kindly learning to just BE with what is happening. Life can be very challenging at times, and often the hardships are out of our control. But we also have great power - we can choose to fall into the fear, become more cynical or hardened. We can also approach our days like little children, knowing that we really don't know what is coming Next in life, but still we have a great curiosity about what might happen next. Because we really don't know for sure, it COULD be something very amazing, or at least very interesting and new, yes?
Chodron asks, "How do you relate when things are uncomfortable?"
Aaaahhhh well, I tend to cocoon up, and then dive into more food than I need so I can dull the anxiety.
*exhale* Some days that has felt like the best I can do. But, if I'm being a friend to myself, I can recognize that, become ever more curious about it, and then try something new without flogging myself first. It is a curiosity.
What does taking care with my food feel like? Well ...
- I appreciate what I eat more when I select it carefully and I eat slowly
- I am happier in general when I have met my daily goals
That sounds pretty great, yea? *exhale*
The trick for me is to remember the PAUSE button. When something unexpected comes into my day, I still most often revert to FEAR
OMG - what does this new thing mean? What next? Did I make a mistake? aaargggh.
Ok, I am way better than I used to be. I bet you are too! When I was in my 20's every bump in the road was a melodrama. Now it takes a lot more.
What I hope, though, is to have more pauses to think, and more.. "Hmmmmm. That makes me anxious" Pause. Breathe. Repeat. "I wonder what's next?"
and less tearing through the cupboards looking for an errant bag of chips.
AND in the meantime, I plan on being my own Best Friend.
You know, that person you give a lot of quarter to, whose butt you kick only when she really needs it and the rest of the time you toss big old hugs around when they are blue. Yea.. that gal. She's pretty all right.
And so are you!