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Low self-esteem? You are not alone….

March 18, 2015

Low self-esteem? – you’re not alone……..

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‘My religion is kindness’ The Dalai Lama

In our society, we could speak of low self-esteem as existing on epidemic proportions. Most of us know what it is like not to be loving or kind to ourselves. In conversations with the Dalai Lama during a meeting in 1990, he did a double take when a Western psychologist spoke of low self-esteem. The phrase had to be translated several times for him, into Tibetan, although his English was good. He just couldn’t grasp the notion of low self-esteem, and when he finally understood what was being said, he was visibly saddened to hear that so many people in the West carry deep feelings of loathing and inadequacy.

Such feelings are virtually unheard of among Tibetans. They have all the severe problems of refugees from oppression, living in the Third World, but low self-esteem is not one of them. But who knows what will happen to future generations as they come into contact with what we ironically call the ‘developed world’. Maybe we are overdeveloped outwardly, and underdeveloped inwardly. Perhaps it is we who, for all our wealth, are living in poverty.

So, how do we remedy this? We can begin through loving kindness meditation. The place to begin is with yourself.

We begin with inviting a sense of kindness and acceptance and cherishing to arise in our own heart, towards ourselves. We might have to do this over and over again, just as you would bring your mind back to your breath over and over again in sitting meditation. The mind won’t take easily to it, because the wounds we carry run deep. But we can try, as an experiment, to hold ourselves in awareness, just as a mother would hold a hurt or frightened child, with a completely available and unconditional love. Can you cultivate forgiveness for yourself? Is it possible to invite yourself to feel happy in this moment? Is it okay for you to feel okay? Is the basis of happiness present in this moment at all?

We can invite feelings of peacefulness and acceptance towards ourselves to be present in us, to wish ourselves well, to be loving and kind to ourselves, at least in this moment. We remember that through meditation we can rest in an awareness which goes beyond thought, and transcends thought. Awareness is not limited by the pot-pourri of our thinking mind, it is the pot which cradles everything inside of it, which cooks things without having to put a flame under it. Sustained awareness itself does the cooking. We go beyond our self-criticism and self-loathing, beyond the cascade of negative thoughts about ourselves, just like a vantage point in a cave in rocks, behind a waterfall. We still see and hear the water, but we are out of the torrent. Let us be at peace with ourselves – if we all practiced this, war would end today. As Thich Nhat Hanh writes: ‘Peace in oneself, peace in the world’

Based on:  ‘Wherever you go, there you are’ Jon Kabat-Zinn

 

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