How meditation can help you love yourself

You never hear of a stressed out Buddhist monk. Or see viral videos of the Dali Lama losing it at LAX because they lost his luggage.

Could it be because these people are super human? Immune to the daily stresses that the rest of us mere mortals go through on a daily basis?

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I have no idea, however I am quite certain that one habit they have does help them achieve this super chill vibe, and that habit is meditation.

A regular meditation practice has a myriad of positive changes psychologically, including lower anxiety levels, decreased depression, enhanced self-awareness, a lengthened attention span, improvements to mental clarity, a more positive outlook as well as the ability to improve our emotional health.

In other words, meditation can help us like ourselves more.

This is great news since a lot of us have that self-critical inner voice in our head. That self-critical jerk is always passing judgment on what we do, who holds us to standards that are impossible to achieve and who always has to have the last word.

Lara McIntyre, a local registered professional counsellor, meditation instructor and hypnotherapist, explains that meditating is one way to learn how to slow down and listen.

It allows us to listen to ourselves with compassion, instead of with judgment.

She says that through meditation we gift ourselves the time and space to learn how to like ourselves and, yes, even to learn to love ourselves.

McIntyre asks, “Aren’t you worth this effort?” If that is a hard question to answer yes to, then ask yourself this one: “Aren’t all the other people in your life worth having a stronger, happier you?”

McIntyre suggests these four tips to help prepare you for a more self-loving and compassionate meditation:

1) Become aware of your inner dialogue. How do you talk to yourself? Be curious and leave the judgment aside. Notice if you are kind, angry, hard, soft, compassionate or dismissive with yourself. And then ask yourself: “Would you talk to a stranger this way? Your best friend?”

2) Discover the opposite. If you’d like to increase self-compassion, the next time you talk harshly to yourself immediately think of the opposite that you could say - and then say it. Practice lots because it does get easier.

3) Let go of expectation. Too often we can let our striving for perfection get in the way of meditating. For instance, you spent your 30-minute meditation practice going over your grocery list, or what you could have said to the person who cut you off. Once you open your eyes, your negative self-talk begins about what a failure you are at meditating. Instead, try this on before your next meditation: “However my meditation unfolds is exactly how it is meant to be.”

4) Meditating does not equal doing nothing, nor is it a waste of time. Yes, often when we meditate we are outwardly quiet and still, which seems like a whole lot of nothing. But meditation is not a waste of time; it’s time to heal, regenerate and refresh so that we can get all of our stuff done.

Join Lara McIntyre (www.laramcintyre.com) for a six-week Mindful Meditation Workshop at The Studio. Only 18 spots available. Workshop starts Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. Email pj@thesutido.ca for more information.

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