Q: We are told to love ourselves and see the divine in ourselves. It is not always easy. What can we do to help us enter into really feeling the fact that we are divine?
First there is recognition of how simple this is but, how very not easy it is. This is not easy, but it is very simple. The simple fact is that the more you come to just be, the easier it is to discern how divine you truly are. This is one of the reasons that some people engage this question by using meditation techniques and some people engage this question by working to serve others. Many of your religions focus on one or the other of these two pathways. Eventually, both the path of service and the path of contemplation will lead you to experiencing yourself as one with the divine. The simple thing is, if you will just go with it, take a path and move forward with it, eventually that is the inevitable end point. It is not easy to do this because everything that has ever taught you that you are something other than divine, every harsh word, every disappointing moment, every lonely night has twisted up or created vast challenges. Each of those moments that has taught you that you are something other than divine, each of those has been excruciating. From the perspective of your soul, feeling the feeling of not being divine hurts. It breaks your heart. All of you have these wounds that you carry with you and those wounds are very distracting. These wounds look like little beliefs inside of you that say, "I'm not worthy" or "I'm not good enough" or "I'm not lovable". There are a million variations and they all come with a packet of emotion and a whole realm of societal structure and support to hold them in place. It is not easy to do this, but the path is very simple.
Some of the things that you can do to engage this experience of being the divine include exercises that are like shortcuts for this. One is, for those of you who feel an affinity for children or a love for children, to watch children and just allow yourself to feel that love for them. Go to a place and watch children playing and just let yourself smile and enjoy them. A further step from that is to imagine adults as children and let yourself feel love for them. Let yourself open some love for them that you would not have had otherwise. To imagine that an adult who is making a big mistake or being a little bit irrational or difficult in any given moment, to imagine them as their child-self makes it so much easier to forgive them for their behavior and to give them that space to make that mistake and still have some love in your heart for them. A further extension of that is to imagine yourself as a child in terms of allowing yourself to extend the same sense of forgiveness and tenderness in your heart toward yourself as you would for a child. Really, the thing that makes self-love so simple is that there is nothing you need to do to find it or create it. All you need to do is remove the parts of you that forgot about it or that resist it. When you imagine yourself as a child, you allow tenderness, and self-love exists in that tenderness. It is as easy as pie. That is one exercise that can help you. Another thing the Keepers will say about self-love is that self-love is one of those kind of magical things that you do not have to get right in every moment in order to have it. First of all, you have it all of the time. It is just buried under a whole bunch of hurt and wounds, but it is always there. You are not missing it, it is just under a pile of clutter.
The second thing about that, every time you tap into self-love, even if it is just for an instance, even if it slips right out of your hands as soon as you grab it, it was still that moment makes a huge difference. It sends ripple effects through your whole life and it makes it one hundred times easier to access it the next time. This is a very nonlinear process. It works through an exponential kind of dynamic, which is one little drop of self-love, one little instant of self-love, will have an exponential effect in your life. It really builds on itself. There is a positive feedback mechanism. The more instances you can experience self-love, the more instances become available for further self-love. Knowing that can help those of you who are holding yourselves to some kind of strict discipline around this to let it go. Discipline will not serve you. Discipline does not facilitate self-love. Gentleness, forgiveness, laughter, these are the things that facilitate self-love. Even in your meditation practice if the contemplative path is one that you have chosen, if you are struggling with self-love through your contemplative path, let go of the need for discipline in the path and allow yourself to fall asleep in the middle of a meditation. As long as it is an effort to be tender, to be gentle, to be nurturing with yourself, you are moving forward on the contemplative path. There is no point to the contemplative path except to reach that point where you love everything and that includes yourself. Being hard on yourself will never move you forward on your contemplative path. Being forgiving with yourself always will.
Q: What are some useful forms of meditation to achieve self-love? Please give us some specific methods that can assist us in uncovering our love for ourselves.
That is a good question given what I have just said. There are so many! They are going to start by describing a specific meditation technique, which is a guided visualization. You quiet your mind, use any technique you would like, focus on your breathing, imagine light around you, all of those techniques are fine. Use a technique to quiet your mind, to sit or lie down in a comfortable position and allow your mind to settle itself, slowly, gently focusing on your breath. Then in your mind's eye, imagine someone or something that you love and imagine that loved one standing before you and allow yourself to smile as you imagine them smiling at you with so much love in your eyes. Allow the feeling of love in your heart to grow. Imagine that as you look in their eyes in your imagination, imagine that your heart gets warmer and that warmth expands so that you can reach it out and wrap it around them because you could hug them with the warmth in your heart. Allow that warmth to reach out behind you and wrap behind your back and hug you. Allow that warmth to extend around you so that you imagine that you are in a field of light created by this loving that you have for this person. As you sit in this field of light, turn your mind's eye to an image of the path before you. Allow your imagination to look toward that path and when you are ready in your mind's eye, you stand up and you begin to walk down the path. As you walk down the path you see yourself one year ago standing on the sideway of the path. You smile at that person and you walk by and you see that person, you from one year ago, smile back at you.
As you continue to walk you see yourself from two years ago and then three years ago. You find as you follow that path that you are passing versions of yourself as you get younger and younger. You are still your current self walking down this path, but you are passing these beings who are embodiments of who you were every year of your life so far until eventually you see yourself as a young adult, a teenager, you see yourself notice what you are wearing as a child, notice your hair. Allow yourself to smile as you see each of these versions of yourself until you finally come to the end of the path where there is an infant; a precious newborn, perfectly innocent, infant child. Allow yourself to sit down and hold this child feeling how innocent, how pure, how completely vulnerable they are. Allow that love that you have built in your heart to extend around this infant knowing without a shadow of a doubt that this infant deserves all the love and support of the world. They could not do anything wrong because they are perfectly good just as they are. Then, know that this infant is you. This is exactly as you were at the moment of your birth. Allow the light and love in your heart to extend again around the infant and then allow that light and glow to reach out behind you and surround you giving you that same warm hug of loving energy as you hold the two of you together in that light. Stay here until you feel complete. When you are ready, find a safe place for the infant, somewhere in your mind's eye where the infant will be perfectly safe and perfectly cared for. Take care to lie them down gently. Invite all of the Spirit Guides and loved ones that you can imagine to come and take care of this infant after you leave, knowing that they will be perfectly safe, knowing that they are perfectly innocent.
Begin to travel back along the path finding yourself as a young child smiling and extending that sense of love to yourself as a middle child, as a teenager, as a young adult. Allow yourself to notice the beauty in the faces of each of these embodiments. As you pass them, and you slowly follow the path, return to yourself at your current age, sitting in a field of light. Take a moment again to feel this love in your heart, to recognize that everything is as it needs to be and to forgive every step of the way recognizing that at each point and time, you have done everything you could to do right. You have done the best you possibly could do with the resources at hand. Allow a sense of relief and forgiveness. As you take in a deep breath and release that breath, you allow a sense of forgiveness, a sense of release trusting that everything that has occurred so far in your life is in harmony with your intentions and where you wish to go. Take another deep breath and you notice that you are again in your body sitting or lying down wherever you started and you follow with several deep breaths that awaken your mind. Stretch your body and allow yourself to come back to consciousness. This guided visualization can be used at any point as often as you wish. You might record it in your own voice so that you can listen to the visualization and be led. You might memorize the steps and simply follow it in your mind's eye. You might read it aloud for a loved one and lead them on this visualization. You can use this as often as you wish.
There are so many other meditation techniques that will help facilitate self-love. Any meditation technique facilitates this as we describe before. There are some techniques that specifically lead you to create a feeling of love and dedicate it to the world around you. One of them is the Tibetan Buddhist practice of Tonglen among countless others. Know that any meditation technique, provided that you do it with the spirit of love and tenderness for yourself, will help facilitate self-love.
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