Working with recovering addicts, I regularly meet wonderful people who have extreme difficulty forgiving themselves for past behaviors. Even without the physical, mental and spiritual destruction caused by active addiction, we all have a past. Maybe we've done things of which we aren't proud. We may have thrown out hurtful words and wish we could to take them back or made promises we didn't keep. We may have inherited negative ideas about ourselves from our families. Some people never forgive themselves; this is a tragedy. Melody Beattie, an author and journalist, writes extensively about codepency and the difficulty of overcoming self-loathing. She compares it to a virus. Who doesn't want to be rid of a virus?
"Contemplating the goodness within ourselves is a classical meditation, done to bring light, joy, and rapture to the mind. In contemporary times this practice might be considered rather embarrassing, because so often the emphasis is on all the unfortunate things we have done, all the disturbing mistakes we have made. Yet this classical reflection is not a way of increasing conceit. It is rather a commitment to our own happiness, seeing our happiness as the basis for intimacy with all of life. It fills us with joy and love for ourselves and a great deal of self-respect." Sharon Salzberg, from Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness.
Through the practice of metta meditation, we have an opportunity to develop compassion for ourselves in a way that is simple, comfortable (pretty much), and effective. Teaching meditation to beginners allows me to incorporate different methods of practice through a series of classes. Metta is a practice to which everyone responds positively. Salzberg says, "Metta is the priceless treasure that enlivens us and brings us into intimacy with ourselves and others. It is the force of love that will lead beyond fragmentation, loneliness and fear."
Kevin Murphy is an old friend and a musician who gave me one of his cds just this week. The timing couldn't have been better. Thank you Kevin, for writing this song ~
How could you love me?/You wouldn't if you knew you're wasting my time and your time too.
For me it's so easy and you don't even see/You hate yourself, how could you love me?
When we first met, I had a crush on you/The more I got to know you the stronger it grew
Then I remembered or it occurred to me/You hate yourself, how could you love me?
I don't know how to put it any other way/I can't paint another picture 'til this one fades away
So for now, this much is true/You hate yourself, I still love you...
Go ahead, hate yourself/I still love you