“The willingness to love is not yet love.” –Carrie Marill
The Pali word Metta means “lovingkindness.” Ms. Marrill instructs us to deepen our understanding of using Metta as a way to assess ourselves in a type of meditation process which creates more self-acceptance.
We can look at ourselves through our mind while we sit quietly. The visual experience in our own mind of how we look, how we act, and how we appraise ourselves is powerful. In a Metta practice, we use the time to self-reflect. We don’t dwell on only the desirable traits, and we don’t let the negative qualities linger either. We stay open to our total sense of self through all of our memories.
Meditation in this way isn’t about having an empty mind. This is having a mind full of everything that is us. We show up honestly, center stage, in our mind. We use lovingkindness to see all of our parts, good and bad, as they flow into the mind. This is also known as practicing resilience.
Without practicing kindness towards ourselves, we will never master it. Watching the parade of thoughts, beliefs, and history of your life on your mental stage makes you an observer of your experience. The ability to observe yourself and with kindness accept your limitations, honor your mistakes and acknowledge where you used or needed your strengths is resilient.
The process of seeing your choices unfold without judging them can help you reset your self-critical button to low. It can also help you manage any over-inflated ego such as, only acknowledging your strengths, or never accounting for your limits. The practice of observing self can become the habit of self-awareness. Self-awareness with lovingkindness becomes self-acceptance.
Wolin and Wolin developed a mandala with seven resiliencies as a way to provide, “… a mirror in which you can find reflections of a resilient self.” They suggest that we can frame our story around themes of resilience rather than childhood damage. That we can have our memories and feel proud in the worst of them and safe with all of them.
One Thing to Do: Use one of the Seven Resiliencies as a way to look at yourself with lovingkindness through a guided Metta practice. Remember that meditation can happen in more than one way. It can be a quiet moment of self-reflection.
The Seven Resiliencies by Steven Wolin, M.D. & Sybil Wolin, Ph.D. www.projectresilience.com
We have used the word “resiliencies” to describe clusters of strength that are mobilized in the struggle with hardship. Each of these seven resiliencies develops in phases, taking different forms in children, adolescents, and adults. Our vocabulary of strengths includes seven resiliencies which are as follows:
Insight – asking tough questions and giving honest answers.
Independence – distancing emotionally and physically from the trouble in one’s life.
Relationships – making fulfilling connections to other people.
Initiative – taking charge of problems.
Creativity – using imagination and expressing oneself in art forms.
Humor – finding the comic in the tragic.
Morality – acting on the basis of an informed conscience.
Dawna Daigneault, Ed.S., LPC.