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Developing self-love and compassion

Do you find you are running yourself ragged for others and not looking after your own needs? Are you struggling to accept yourself, warts and all? Or perhaps you are judgemental of others and find yourself in disputes or difficulties in your relationships.

The following exercise is a meditation to help develop love, compassion, kindness and warmth to yourself and others. It helps to bring about a feeling of peace, open your heart chakra and improve self-love. It softens the heart and breaks down any barriers you might feel towards yourself or others. Try and practice this meditation every day or night for a couple of weeks and notice the difference it makes.

Self-love and compassion exercise

1. Make yourself comfortable (either sitting or lying). Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and let your mind become still and your body relaxed. Feel your breath moving in and out of your body.

2. Form a picture of yourself in your mind and then slowly repeat the following phrases (you can change these for your own if you prefer):

My I be happy May I be free from suffering May I be safe May I be healthy and strong

Repeat this series of phrases three times.

3. Now bring to mind someone you love – a spouse, partner, family member of close friend. Hold a picture of this person in your mind and repeat the phrases, swapping in ‘I’ for the person’s name. Connect with the feelings that arise. Repeat the phrases three times. 4. As you repeat the phrases, allow yourself to feel the sincerity of them and if you experience feelings of warmth, allow them to grow. Slowly repeat the set of phrases three times.

5. Now think of someone you are having difficulty with – it may be a family member or a colleague or perhaps an ex-partner. The first time you do this, you may wish to choose someone you are only having minor difficulties with. Form the picture of this person in your mind. Repeat the phrases three times, again substituting ‘I’ for the person’s name. This stage may be more difficult and feelings of anger, frustration or sadness may arise. Take these as signs that your heart is opening and softening and continue.

6. Lastly, think of a group of people – perhaps your family or people in your workplace. Or you may choose people in a particular country which is experiencing problems. Or you can choose ‘all beings’. Repeat the phrases again using ‘they’ or ‘my family’ or ‘all beings’ instead of ‘I’. Again, repeat three times.

7. Go through the whole process again another two times and then sit and relax for a few minutes allowing the feelings of warmth to grow and travel around your heart and body. After a few minutes, open your eyes.

Practicing this exercise regularly for a short amount of time can help clear blocks in your heart chakra, allowing your energy to flow better. It can also help to boost your self-love and enable you to let go of judgements and feel more at peace.

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