Kindness Starts with Yourself
We are once again in the holiday season, and that can mean different
things to each of us. For some this is a wonderful time, full of
friendship, fun and excitement. For others it can be a time of
loneliness. For some the memories of past holidays can bring joy, for
others pain. For many of us, myself included, it is a mix of enjoyment
and being overwhelmed. It can be a stressful time whether you love it or
I always find that I need to take a step back over the holidays and make sure that I am taking care of myself. It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement, stress, over-scheduling, loneliness and excesses. This is supposedly a time of 'goodwill to all men,' yet it is easy to end up feeling personally burned out or low.
When we practice metta - lovingkindness or goodwill - we always start with ourselves. Sometimes this is difficult, in that we understand that we need to love all beings - but loving ourself can be the hardest task of all. After all, we know all of our faults and flaws. And anyway, isn't it bad to be 'selfish?'
True metta for yourself is not selfish. You are a living being like all other beings. You know suffering and you wish to be free from that suffering. So just as I wish you to be free from that suffering you should wish it for yourself too.
So as we go through the holiday season practice being kind to yourself. That's not being selfish - selfishness leads us to over indulge and ignore others. That's not kindness. Kindness is caring for yourself.
In the meditation linked below we practice that kindness for ourselves. By being kind to ourselves we can generate a caring heart that radiates out to all beings.
Whatever the holidays mean to you I wish you to be well, happy, and free from suffering.
PS a few of us have committed to press 'play' at 7pm PT on Sunday 13th December - you are welcome to join us if you wish.
PPS The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that this letter was first sent a couple of years ago - but I felt it was highly appropriate now so decided to re-send it for this year. We can all do with a reminder to generate lovingkindness for ourselves!