Generosity of spirit toward ourselves

“Accept the generosity that is the life that is lived as you.” Shikai Sensei

This is generosity of spirit toward ourselves, which is so necessary.  When we open our hearts with compassion and loving kindness to ourselves we begin to remove our ego from the center of our lives.  Our loving heart becomes the center of operations. Generosity allows us to stop being so hard on ourselves when we make a mistake, say the wrong thing, or even think the “wrong thing.” We can begin to understand how harmful our negative thinking and self-talk is to us. Our hearts soften toward ourselves.

Imagine that.

Sharon Salzberg wrote in her book Loving-kindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, “You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” Imagine that.

Imagine what it would be like to remember that you deserve your own love and affection.

Imagine what it would be like to give yourself the same tenderness you give your loved ones.

Imagine the way you could feel if your thought was, “It’s all right, Sweetheart. It’s just a mistake,” rather than what you usually say to yourself.

Imagine it.

And now, find a sweet name to call yourself. Something gentle and kind. Something to replace the thought that starts with “what’s wrong with you….” Keep that gentle name and gentle thought handy and practice it a lot. Call yourself by that name as much as you can. Watch what happens to your heart.

Meditation

It’s so nice to have a guided meditation. Someone leading us through the process and telling us where to place our attention. But, we can guide our own meditation. We have the general instruction to return to the breath when we are distracted by something, so we can notice what we are hearing and return to the breath when the sound passes. You can gently note the “dripping, dripping, dripping,” of the faucet. No need to try to figure out whether you left the faucet running a little or if you need to call a plumber. Just note “dripping” and return to the breath when the sound no longer has your attention.  You can place your attention on what is happening in your body, when your leg begin to go to sleep you note “tingling, tingling, tingling” until it passes, and then return to the breath. You can sit with your feelings of sorrow, irritation, boredom, sexual desire, or anything that arises, and then return to the breath when the feeling passes. You release all thoughts, “Thinking, Sweetheart,” and notice what’s happened in your emotions and body because of the thoughts, but then of course, return to the breath.  The breath, calm and without bias, is always waiting for us to return.

Extend your mindfulness out from the cushion to the other things you do in your life. Be mindful in your work; in your relationships; while walking, talking, and playing. Bring mindfulness to every area of your life.

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