Taking Care

“It is precisely because we resist the darkness in ourselves
that we miss the depths of the loveliness, beauty, brilliance,
creativity, and joy that lie at our core.”

Thomas Moore, Dark Nights of the Soul

In reflecting on self care, I was reminded of the Buddhist teaching of Maitri, a Sanskrit word meaning unconditional friendship with one self.  And is the basis for acceptance and compassion. 
 
Self compassion means making friends with all parts of ourselves.  What does it look like and how does it feel to treat ourselves with unconditional friendliness?  It’s not that easy – we are much more familiar with our disapproving and judgmental mind states.

There is also a strong habit in our system of avoiding the difficult and uncomfortable aspects of ourselves and our life that we don’t want to – or know how to – acknowledge and feel.

Maitri is an invitation to turn towards the pain and to deepen in self honesty.  It means maintaining a feeling of deep compassion toward ourselves as well as a sense of humour!  Living Maitri is being able to say, “I feel so much shame right now and I’m still going to be gentle with myself.” 
 
Friendliness and care toward our self is not indulgent.  The practice of Maitri is about maintaining a relationship with pain, difficulty, shame and guilt.  Ease comes from within: learning to be with feelings of discomfort, failure and embarrassment is how the seeds of true harmony are planted and nurtured. 
 
Feeling at home in our body and mind, learning to accept all parts of ourselves – including the judgemental and unkind aspects – and applying the gentle practice of Maitri:  this taking care of our hearts and minds with the same diligence as we take care of our bodies, is a freeing and empowering way to live.
 
Maitri is the essence of taking care.  We need this practice so much in our world right now: compassionate connection and true friendliness with all parts of ourselves, each other and the earth. 

If you feel called to explore and cultivate self care, please join me for an afternoon Taking Care Retreat on Saturday 1st August Live online from 2 – 5pm UK / 3 – 6pm South Africa & Europe.  For more information about the retreat www.wise-living.co.za/workshops-and-retreats/courses/

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