Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Love begins with you

You may find it difficult to feel love and extend it to others because you didn’t get much of it yourself as a child. Even though you never really learned how to give and receive love freely, people are constantly asking you for what you believe you don’t have. You’re like a person living in the desert with a dry well; you can’t share any water with others because you don’t have any yourself. Or you may find that your well has water but constantly runs dry just when you need it most.
The meditations provided in this chapter dig a well deep into your soft spot, where the waters of love never run dry. (In fact, the love I’m talking about doesn’t belong to anyone; it just bubbles up from a mysterious and inexhaustible source.) You may need to prime the pump, though. That’s why the traditional instructions counsel you to begin each meditation on love and compassion by focusing on yourself. When you’ve filled your own well to the brim, you can begin to extend the overflow to include others as well. Just as you can’t really heal others until you’ve healed yourself to a certain degree, you can’t love others until you feel deeply loved yourself. Besides, you deserve love at least as much as anyone else. In the West, we often practice self-denial, while equating self-love with selfishness. Yet, the reverse generally holds true: People who love themselves give love more freely and generously than those who don’t.
As a remedy for the widespread Western disease of self-criticism and selfdenial, the meditative traditions offer the practice of self-love. In particular, as you work with opening your heart, you can remember to keep your heart open to yourself even, paradoxically, when your heart is closed.

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