Inner Reflections
July 24, 2023

International Self-Care Day

Meister Eckhart said, “You may call God love. You may call God goodness. But the best thing for God is compassion.” Welcome to a talk on self-compassion. This is a huge topic and a huge subject. The poly word for compassion is Coruna, and that tradition we often call this loving kindness. And there’s a great phrase that says, “May all beings everywhere be happy, healthy, and at peace.” This is a phrase of Coruna. This is a phrase of compassion, where we extend this compassion, we extend this loving kindness to all beings everywhere, all humans on the planet, the animals that share this planet with us, all of nature. May all beings everywhere be happy, healthy, and at peace. Think about a story that one of my teachers, Jack Kornfield, speaks about where the Dalai Lama was coming to visit him and many of the other big western Buddhist teachers some decades ago. And the topic of self-hatred came up. And as the Dalai Lama’s translator was trying to explain to him this question about how do we deal with self-hatred here in the west, it took many, many minutes before the Dalai Lama could even comprehend this phrase and this idea of self-hatred. And once he figured it out, he said, “No, no, no, no. This is a mistake. This is a mistake.” And he asked everyone there. He said, “How many of you feel this? How many of you deal with self-hatred? And almost everyone in the room raised their hand.

But in the Dalai Lama’s culture, self-hatred doesn’t even exist. But it does exist in our culture. Many of us in the West are dealing with self-hatred. We’re dealing with shame and guilt. And it rears its ugly head in the form of what we call the inner critic. It’s that voice inside of our head that’s judging and saying we’re not good enough, that we don’t belong. And it’s abusive and it’s negative. But it turns out this is a program that was given to you. You were not born with self-hatred. We sometimes call this original goodness. You were born in this state of goodness. So self-compassion is about bringing the healing medicine of compassion to these areas of us that are tender, vulnerable, broken. Helen Keller said, “Kindness is the language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” So this force of compassion of kindness is very, very strong, very, very potent.

Now, for many of us, it may be easier to offer compassion to other people, but not to ourselves. But here’s the deal. The circle of compassion is incomplete if it doesn’t include ourselves. So it’s very, very important that this compassion also go towards us as well. So I invite you to start exploring in your life, whether it’s in a yoga class, a yoga posture, or anything that comes up that you start to work more and more with this idea of self-compassion. And you can say that phrase to yourself. May I be happy? May I be healthy? May I be at peace? And the beautiful thing is you can be a role model and a leader to others because when you extend compassion to yourself, you show everyone that you live with, that you share your life with, what it means to be compassionate. And then we also have a special bonus meditation called the Loving Kindness meditation, which I really, really highly recommend that you check out. Thank you for your kind attention.

Check out the following practices about self-care:

The Basics of Mindfulness