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A Road to Self-Compassion: In Honor of August as Metta Meditation Month

Throughout my life, I’ve always been viewed as the “selfless” one. The “people pleaser.” The “highly empathetic one,” the “ridiculously sensitive one,” the one who wears her heart on her sleeve and wants to love everyone with every microscopic ounce of her being. It hadn’t always been beneficial on my end, and in fact I frequently received the shortest end of the stick in the majority of situations I faced. I thought there was no solution: “this was just the way I am, and I can’t change it.”

It became tormenting for me to give my heart out to others, and I began to feel as though no generous action of mine could ever be reciprocated to the degree that I’d be satisfied with. I morphed into a selfish being, a monster of needing to feel loved by others, someone who craved the positive energy and love I believed to have filled others with.

Meditation slipped out of my sight when I was faced with a difficult experience a couple of months ago. I had been betrayed by someone who I held incredibly dear to my heart. I began to doubt myself, feel surges of anger and disappointment, and additionally distrusted every person that crossed my path. I was feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled: the part of me that gave my heart to others was out of commission. “There must be something wrong with me,” and “how can I ever trust anyone ever again?” were two common thoughts in my head. Luckily after coming to IDP, these strong feelings of self-loathing began to disintegrate with each passing day.

Upon deepening my meditation practice and becoming aware of a more personally relevant sector, metta meditation, I remember saying to myself, “huh, this should be easy” during my very first metta sitting. To put it simply: metta meditation changed my life.The act of lovingkindness, and wishing happiness, safety, and ease among other people is something I felt would be quite suiting for my personality. And indeed it was. But once the meditation was guided more towards self-compassion, and wishing these positive things upon myself, I felt the ultimate surge of discomfort. How was I supposed to wish all these great things for little ol’ me? How could I disregard others for one second and make this meditation about loving myself?

I had never done something like this before. It felt peculiar. Something felt wrong. I had never put myself first, nor did I have any idea how to. I realized, finally, that I did not love myself enough to have a strong core, and only the happiness and reassurance I received from other people was the fuel energizing me, yet nothing from within. At this point, I knew something had to change, it was imperative that I fix this or else I’d be stuck in this self-loathing rut forever.

I felt compelled to develop a remote form of self-compassion. That’s where metta meditation played the most significant role in my practice, and I made that my prime focus every time I sat down for a sitting. Luckily, IDP helped in my metta practice, by guiding me and enabling me to build up the strength to become comfortable with this type of meditation. By thrusting lovingkindness upon others, and additionally being gentle to myself and wishing these lovely things towards myself in general, I have found myself to be much more able to genuinely express and direct these feelings to others.

As August is Metta Month, I am satisfied to say I’ve been practicing metta meditation each and everyday. I can feel my heart opening more to new experiences, to others, and to myself. I wish to spread my love for this practice to anyone else who, perhaps are like me, and do not treat themselves with the kindness they’d give to everyone except themselves. I am so unconditionally appreciative of IDP’s efforts, as well as IDP having encouraged this developed self-compassion that I now hold deep in my heart, and I'll carry with me for the rest of my life.

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