Saturday, February 12, 2011
It's requiring a whole lot of maitri, a Sanskrit word that can be defined as unconditional friendliness towards oneself.
Maitri means accepting yourself just as you are are, warts and all. It's a form of self-love that generates a wave of loving kindness that spreads outward from the self to others. It rejects the idea that we have to reach a state of perfection (which is unattainable for humans, of course) in order to love others fully or carry out our responsibilities in the world.
For me, the Buddhist practice of maitri is a gentle voice in my head that tells me that I can keep going, and that I should. It means not beating myself up about my missed days of exercise or for a bout of emotional eating. It's a guiding voice that tells me to be brave and face the things that make me anxious.
It means constantly pulling myself into the present with a simple act or gesture--a kind word of connection, a smile, a cuddle, a long chat with a friend--rather than checking out mentally as I go through my day.
It also means facing this set of letters on the computer keyboard every day and trying to write through this February funk I'm feeling. Lately when I sit down to write I start off with one idea, and the words take me in an entirely different direction. It's a sign of my muddled mind, I think, and maitri tells me that I just have to accept that that's where I am right now.
Hitting "Publish Post" on this little love letter to myself and to you is also a form of maitri, a way of saying, as Madeleine L'Engle does in The Summer of the Great-Grandmother; The Crosswicks Journal, Book Two:
"'This is how it is for me. How is it for you?'"
Local chatter from ZenCrafter at 8:36 AM