Sharing a Meditation Exercise for Self-Love
You may not think meditation is for you, but we all need more self-love in our lives.
The right kind of guided meditation can make it a lot easier to lose yourself in the activity. Meditation can work wonders for stress reduction and overall improvement of your mental headspace. It’s not just a weird thing that your hippier neighbor down the hall does; it’s becoming more widely practiced with every year that goes by.
Every few years, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducts a health interview survey that looks at the habits of people in the US. Part of the survey looked at habits like yoga and meditation.
The most recent survey in 2017 showed that between 2012 and 2017, the number of people regularly meditating tripled. In 2012, only 4.1% of people survey practiced yoga, but that number spiked up to 14.2% in 2017.
I’m on a journey toward mindfulness and successful meditation, but I’m early in that journey. Meditation isn’t easy at first, but guided meditation is more approachable. With the help of someone experienced, it can be a lot easier to calm your mind.
Recently, in one of my yoga classes, the instructor walked us through an incredible guided meditation sequence that was about much more than just relaxation. The routine was also pushing us all to practice a little self-love.
Let’s get into the steps. Start out by sitting in a comfortable posture that you can maintain for a while. For this guided meditation, sitting is better than laying down.
1. Visualize someone who has taught you something.
This can be a teacher, a mentor, a family member, a friend — the important thing is that it’s someone you respect and appreciate. Think of anyone who has taught you a lesson that stuck with you. It could even be an excellent teacher from your school years or a professor in college you had a profound effect on you.
First, picture that person sitting right in front of you. You’re at eye level with them.
Think to yourself the following. You can vary the words a bit to make it work for you; I’m paraphrasing a bit from what I heard in class since my memory isn’t a flawless mirror.
I wish you happiness today. I appreciate everything you have done for me.
I wish you good health and peace of mind.
I hope that you feel loved today.
After you’ve finished the last statement, take a deep breath. As you exhale slowly, imagine their image disappearing before you.
2. Next, picture someone you’re frustrated with.
You probably already have an idea of where this is going; this part is where it gets trickier. Don’t picture your archenemy necessarily; imagine someone who has been getting on your nerves lately. It could be someone you’re frustrated with at work, someone in your family, whoever it is you’re having problems with.
Picture them sitting in front of you.
Now, repeat the same words as before. If you change your exact phrasing from what I provided above, that’s fine, but make sure you keep it the same between people.
I know it’s tempting to cut back on some of those wishes for happiness and love, but this is a gentle act of forgiveness.
You might not feel like forgiving this frustrating person at first, but the American Psychological Association explains that forgiveness can improve your mental and physical health. It’s easier to forgive small offenses rather than lifelong rifts, so start small in this guided meditation and work your way up.
3. Now, picture someone you love.
Imagine them sitting in front of you, at eye level. You’re looking into their eyes.
You’re going to repeat the same warm wishes from before.
I have a confession — at first, when I was told to picture someone I was frustrated with, I imagined my boyfriend because we just had one of those silly little domestic disagreements about dishes and trash duties.
I almost laughed during a very serious guided meditation because my person I was a little frustrated with and the person I love was the same person!
I ultimately decided on a coworker who had been getting on my nerves a little at work for my second person to visualize. It really is helpful to start practicing forgiveness with smaller transgressions and frustrations. I was glad I chose someone I was only mildly annoyed with since I then visualized my partner as the person I love.
4. At last, picture yourself sitting across from you.
Imagine yourself sitting directly in front of you. Look into your own eyes. Repeat those same sentiments, but it’s time to switch the wording just a little.
I wish myself happiness today. I appreciate everything I do for my body.
I wish myself good health and peace of mind.
I will let myself feel loved today.
This is where the radical power of self-love comes into this exercise. Showing appreciation to yourself is hard, sometimes even harder than extending forgiveness to someone else. Giving that forgiveness, acceptance, and love to yourself is hard.
Even so, the conclusion of this guided meditation is where it really makes an impact. It’s hard to organically practice self-love in such a direct manner, but working through these steps essentially puts you in a mindset of gratitude and appreciation. Once you’re in that mindset, you can extend it to yourself as well.
It's sometimes easier to show kindness to others rather than ourselves.
This is a powerful meditation exercise; it starts out with an easy task. It works up into a slightly more difficult trial of forgiveness. Then, it ebbs, it gets easier again with sending these positive wishes to someone you love. In the end, it finishes with the most important meditation at all — the part that brings that warmth and goodness to you.
If you haven’t tried meditating before, it might sound like a fad. It’s incredibly hard to start meditating. It’s been seven months since I started trying to meditate periodically, either on my own or in yoga classes, and I’ve only successfully meditated a few times. Regardless, I’ll keep trying.
We don’t give ourselves the time, attention, or love that we deserve. We just don’t. We sacrifice our care for ourselves in favor of extending it to others.
We do want to give our time and love to others, but we also need to give some of that to ourselves. Meditation can make such a difference in peoples’ lives because of exercises like this one.