Friday, December 31, 2010

How to Make Friends with Your Experience

If you’re like most of the people I know (including me!), you tend to be exceptionally hard on yourself. In fact, you probably treat yourself in ways you wouldn’t consider treating any of your loved ones or friends. When you make a mistake, you may call yourself names or heap harsh judgments and criticisms on yourself, including a laundry list of all the other mistakes you’ve made over the years. When you feel some tender or vulnerable emotion, you may dismiss it as weak or wimpy and attempt to push past it, rather then give yourself time to feel it fully.
Just the other day, for example, when I couldn’t find my keys, I was startled to hear this irritable, impatient voice inside my head chiding me for being so stupid and forgetful! Sound familiar? Most of us hold some image of how we’re supposed to act, think, and feel, and we’re constantly struggling to get our experience and behavior to conform to it — and blaming ourselves when we don’t.
In meditation, you have an opportunity to reverse this trend and explore your experience just the way it is, without trying to judge it or change it. To replace the stress, conflict, and turbulence inside you with peace and harmony, you need to make friends with yourself — which means treating yourself with the same kindness, care, and curiosity that you would give to a close friend. You can begin by bringing a gentle, nonjudgmental awareness to your thoughts and feelings.

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