Metta (loving kindness, friendliness) is one of the meditation practices for improving your self image. It dates back almost 2,600 years, and it is still relevant today.
In traditional metta practice, one begins with practicing loving kindness for oneself by repeating a series of phrases like these (this is one set that I actually use very frequently):
May I be at peace.
May my heart remain open.
May I know the beauty and the radiance of my own true nature.
May I be healthy.
May I be free and happy – truly happy.
If it is difficult for you to shower these loving kindness blessings on yourself, think of someone for whom you can shower the loving kindness blessings upon. Practice with sending loving kindness to your child, your neice, you spouse, your boy or girl friend or even your dog.
Once you get the hang of it, shower these loving kindness blessings on yourself. This practice alone will help to create a positive self image.
If you have any difficulties, continue to practice on yourself for several weeks before including the rest of the love ones in your life.
Traditional metta practice continues with people you love, followed by people with whom you are neutral about, people you have difficulty with and finally all sentient beings. To do so, simply substitute “you” or “she” or “he” or “they” – whatever seems appropriate – for “I” and “my” in the above phrases.
For my own metta practice, in the first stage, I begin as above. For the second stage, I invite in my spouse and my three children. For the third stage, I include my immediate family – brothers, sister, and their descendents. In the fourth stage, I shower metta on all the people I know who are currently suffering more than others. In the final stage I include all sentient beings.
Meditation Practices For Improving Your Self Image
Tim Desmond, a licensed marriage and family therapist, talks about the use of metta in therapy:
When I use metta practice with clients, I generally begin by asking them to identify an image that easily inspires feelings of love, compassion, and warmth in them. Traditionally, this practice begins with using oneself as the first object of compassion, but for clients with low self-esteem, that can sometimes be too difficult. Many clients have an easier time picturing a baby, an animal, a religious figure, or a benefactor for this first step. The important thing is finding someone or something that naturally inspires uncomplicated and unambivalent feelings of compassion and love. With help, most clients can find an image that works, and can engage with the process.
Later on, he concludes,
Metta practice is an important and helpful part of the way I work with clients. Observing its potential to help clients move through problems that had appeared intractable has convinced me that the practice of offering love and compassion to problematic inner parts could be a significant contribution to the way we conduct therapy, both for our clients and ourselves.
Metta practice is one of the meditation practices for improving your self image. There are other practices that also do the trick. A daily practice of sitting and walking meditation help a lot. Eating properly and exercise are also beneficial practices to improve self image.
How Do You Rate Your Self Image?
I would really appreciate if you would rate yourself on your self image on a scale of one to five, five being “great” and one being “need work”. Please comment on your rating below