Loving Yourself – in memory of “One of the Good Guys”
Updated: Aug 9, 2018
This morning I sat down to prepare for my next class. The theme for Week 4? – Compassion, Love Yourself. Seems easy enough, right? Buy yourself those shoes you really don’t need, eat another chocolate bar….
…. but what if it means something more?
By Wednesday, my mind was already all over the map. Will I get my voice back to give the evening’s class? Super happy and relieved that my oldest son got into university! Extremely excited that my youngest was going off travelling the world with his class without me 😉 But the one thought that overshadowed all this …. the news that a classmate from high school took his own life. So many conversations with so many classmates via facebook. Confusion, bewilderment, how could this be? Why? I would love to have one more conversation where someone told me that this was all a big mistake.
You see Brad was “one of the good guys”. Always had a smile, always appeared happy, definitely one of the most well liked in our grad class of 110 kids. He wasn’t a trouble maker, but you can be sure he was with them and often had that “guilty by association” smirk on his face.
I haven’t seen Brad since our last class reunion. I’m not even going to say that I knew him very well – though I did have a crush on him in junior high 😉 One will never know of the darkness Brad experienced, but I know I’ve visited some dark places that I was sure I would never return from. It really doesn’t matter how many friends you have, how much love and support you’re surrounded with – it’s still possible to feel like an alien, completely alone and separated. I have no doubt that Brad had an amazing and loving family, but if you can’t feel love for yourself, you certainly can’t feel theirs – no matter how much you want to.
“It takes more courage to examine the dark corners of your own soul than it does for a soldier to fight on a battlefield” – W.B. Yeats
So how did I survive the darkness? I woke up one morning and had a thought “There must be a better way”. Knowing now what I know about the brain – I actually saved my life with that single thought. You see, by thinking that thought, I opened a neuropath in my brain, told my amygdala that it wasn’t going to run the show anymore and answers started trickling in. The one answer that kept knocking on my door was meditation. It took me awhile to let it in, but boy am I ever glad I did.
And the science is in… meditation calms your mind, improves focus, increases contentment but most recently studies have proven that it fosters compassion. Empathy and compassion are both activated in the brain thru meditation. Self kindness, common humanity, mindful acceptance all come part of the package. You are strengthening that part of your brain that makes it easier to love yourself.
It just gets easier and easier to do things for yourself without feeling selfish or guilty. As the flight attendant says “put your own oxygen mask on before you help others”. Give yourself love so you can truly love others. How do I love myself now? I sleep in when I need to, read a book in the middle of the day, eat healthier foods (chocolate does count!), I go for a massage,etc. But the biggest thing I do to love myself… I let go of other people’s expectations of me and that often means letting go of my own.
I know firsthand the shift that can be made from wishing I could experience love – to radiating love for myself and everyone around me.
So Brad, this one’s for you:
“May you know peace”
“May you be free of suffering”
“May you know love”
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