Tips and thoughts on how to have a great life.
|Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on July 12, 2018 at 3:50 AM||comments (1)|
‘Loving-kindness and compassion are the basis for wise, powerful, sometimes gentle, and sometimes fierce actions that can really make a difference -- in our own lives and those of others.’ Sharon Salzberg
Back in 2015 when I decided to rename my business, as I moved more into the areas of coaching and meditation instruction and away from teaching drama and performance, I took some time to choose a name that resonated with me and I what I wanted to do. At the time my regular practice was most often that of Loving Kindness. I had attended a Loving Kindness retreat in 2014 and had experienced a profound sense of love for myself and as I gradually expanded my practice to include all beings, I found my ability to forgive others, see them as vulnerable beings (just as I am) and to be more present with their good intentions, I realised how important the practice of Loving Kindness is to me. And so, Metta-morphics emerged, Metta being the Pali word for Loving Kindness. Now over four years since that retreat Loving Kindness is still one of my favourite practices and the one to which I always return in difficult times.
My first experience of Metta was listening to a guided meditation by Tara Brach many years ago and from there I went on to read Sharon Salzberg’s book Loving Kindness. Being quite rule bound I decided to follow the recommended instruction of practicing just for myself for 6 months before moving on to others. This recommendation is especially important for those of us living in the Western world as it is believed we have a hard time with self-hatred and self-loathing and feelings of disconnection due to a lack of community and communal thinking. In the East there appears less of a focus on individuality and so practicing for oneself appears to be less of a challenge for those born there.
The more I practiced the kinder I found myself being towards myself, the quicker I was to forgive my mistakes and the easier it was to see the good intentions of others as I began to realise I didn’t intend to make mistakes or be inconsiderate towards others. Eventually I moved on to including others, strangers, those I had difficulty with and finally all beings. The more I practiced the more content I became and the less bothered I was by the actions of others. It as during this time I went on retreat.
The last day of the retreat involved a practice where we sent Loving Kindness to ourselves at each stage of our lives, starting with birth, moving through childhood, our teens, and different stages of adulthood. During this practice I was overwhelmed with a sense of love for myself. I saw how hard I tried to do my best, how often I had beaten myself up for my mistakes and how even at my most foolish my intentions had always been good. I loved myself more, in that moment, than I ever had, and I felt no sense of shame or embarrassment for doing so. It was in that moment of kindness towards myself that I realised I could see others in the same way and with regular practice help myself to deal with challenges that arose in my life and my feelings when faced with challenging behaviour in others.
I practice Loving Kindness meditation weekly and I often bring it with me throughout my day. It is a simple practice and one which I hope you will find useful.
Begin by bringing to mind a loved one, a person, a pet, someone easy to love, living or dead. Get a sense of them in your mind, a picture, a feeling, whatever works for you. Feel and connect to that love in your heart (you can place your hand on your heart if you wish). Repeat the following phrases to this individual:
May You Be Safe
May You Be Happy
May You Be Healthy
May You Live with Ease.
Repeat the phrases for a minimum of one minute up to five minutes before moving on. You can adapt the phrases to suit your own specific needs for example: May you Be Free from Suffering, May You Love Yourself as You Are, May You Be at Peace etc. After your chosen duration, move on to yourself, repeating May I Be Safe and so on, or you can continue to say ‘You’ if that feels better. Some people find it easier to say ‘You’ especially if you find the process emotional, which many people do. After sending the Loving Kindness to yourself then move on to a stranger, a person you have a difficulty with and finally all beings.
As you practice you will find your mind will wander, when it does, simply return to the phrases and begin again. Notice your emotions during your practice, you may find it easier to send it to others rather than yourself to begin with, and that is quite normal. When you begin the practice initially it is recommended you do it just for yourself for approximately 6 months. If you find that a challenge you can still begin with loved one before turning the Loving Kindness towards yourself.
As you progress through your day it is nice to wish Loving Kindness to those you meet by repeating one of the phrases in your mind for them. It can also be useful when you find yourself getting frustrated with others. Instead of complaining in your mind, send them Loving Kindness, you’ll be amazed how much you’ll gain from the experience.
I hope you find Loving Kindness as rewarding as I do, feel free to post questions or thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for reading if you have any questions about what I do please get in touch, [email protected], 00353868373582.
I hope our paths cross again in future,
Mind Coach, Meditation Instructor, Trainer
|Posted by Elfreda Manahan-Vaughan on June 29, 2018 at 2:45 AM||comments (0)|
Over the past few years I worked with a lot of clients. I am always fascinated how many of them mirror my own experiences and challenges. This leads me to think either one of two things,
1. They are a mirror for my own journey of self-discovery or
2. Everyone is just the same and we all struggle with the same problems and challenges.
I think the truth is, it’s both. The universe has a great way of placing in your path the right lessons at the right moment and underneath all the individual difference we display we really are the same, vulnerable, insecure and just trying to do our best. Over the past few years I have worked with people who don’t feel good enough, you struggle to speak up for themselves, who feel like victims, who think there is something wrong with them, who apologise all the time and who don’t know how to find their inner power, to name but a few. I have struggled with all of these experiences at different points in my life and some of them I am still working on. I am very fortunate to be surrounded by a close group of people who accept me as I am, and this has allowed me to own up to my challenges and to admit when I am not doing so well. This is not always the case with clients and so for me as a coach it is important to allow them to be whomever they are in the moment, even if it involves expletives, some of which can get directed at me. I am ok with that, as I work hard at giving them permission to just be, whatever that may be, and when they are ready we work on finding their chosen direction and figuring out what they want.
What I’ve learned from this process is that most people struggle with giving themselves permission to be less than perfect. They may not feel the have to be perfect in every area of their life but there always seems to be some area where they deem their behaviour, or certain behaviours, as not good enough. When this happens, they feel a dissonance with what they think they should do and what they actually need. So, for this weekend I want you to give yourself permission to do, say, feel, be whatever your inner voice says you need, not what you should or what you think makes you a good person or a worthwhile person but what you truly need.
Stay in your pyjamas all day
Stay in bed
Pass on a shower or washing your hair
Wear no makeup
Each the cake
Lie in the sun
Take a day off
Have a takeaway
Leave the dishes in the sink
Let someone visit without cleaning the house
Let the grass grow
Write down all the things that frustrate you and wallow in your frustration for a few minutes
Say what you really think
Be true to your heart’s desire
Do whatever you never give yourself permission do because you think that its not ok, or that other people will judge you for it. The amazing thing is that once you do, the world won’t end, and people will soon forget about whatever you did because they will be too preoccupied with themselves. The important thing about giving yourself permission is acknowledging who you are and what you need. Once you do you’ll find the tiredness soon passes, the tears get less, the anger subsides, and you have the chance to be more present with what is actually happening, rather than trying to live up to some imagined expectation whilst ignoring what your true self actually needs.
So, just for the weekend (but preferably every day) give yourself permission to truly be yourself.
Thanks for reading if you have any questions about what I do please feel fee to get in touch, [email protected], 00353868373582.
I hope our paths cross again in future,
Mind Coach, Meditation Instructor, Trainer