The only thing better than the arrival of Friday is the rare Friday that happens to kick off a long, holiday weekend. You’ve got yourself one of that delicious variety today, if you happen to be in the U.S. (which I still am not! Yay, mindfulness travel!). You know that means a whole extra day for getting your “no-fail” mindfulness challenge for this weekend on, though, so of course that means we’re going to turn it up a notch.
What else would you do with that extra day, anyway? Don’t answer that…
Just a few days ago in this very spot, we tackled the contradiction in terms that the MBA experience (and the purposeful life in general) can often be. You’ve gotta be able to work well with anyone, but still get yours at the same time. You’re supposed to be ambitious, but not egotistical. Attentive and detail-oriented, but not a micromanager. In other words, the perfect balance of everything. Which is tough for a lot of reasons, including the very sold reason that “perfect” doesn’t really exist.
That doesn’t stop us from (more than) occasionally insisting on it, though. We’re tough critics in this little b-school corner we’ve carved out in the world – of each other, and often most intensely, of ourselves. I won’t go on too much here because I’ve written about self-criticism and how it can limit us before. I will say, though that it’s not great for keeping that balance you’re aspiring to.
This weekend, you’re going to work to undo those well-ingrained patterns a bit, with a meditation that may just make you feel some feels. Maybe. We’ll see. It’s kind of meta. Well, “metta,” actually.
A “metta” meditation”, or “loving kindness” meditation is one where you deliberately send good vibes to someone else. That’s where we’re kicking things off today, with a little twist at the end to keep things interesting.
- Start by closing your eyes, and picturing someone you love. It can be a friend, family member, a pet…your call.
- Next, try to connect with the goodwill or love you feel for that person (or furry creature). Notice how that emotion feels in your body. Maybe you feel lighter, or your heart feels warm.
- Observe any thoughts that may arise as you bring the image of this loved one to mind. Maybe there are memories, or plans, or just images that you see of the person, doing something or simply being.
- As you picture this person, begin to imagine actually sending the goodwill or love you feel for them, that you are now fully connected to through your awareness of it, to them. You may even wish to put words to your good thoughts for them: “May you be healthy, may you be peaceful, may you be happy,” repeating a few times internally as you send your goodwill towards them. Picture them being able to accept this from you, perhaps even sensing the happiness they may feel in receiving it, as well as how you feel in being able to offer it to them.
- Next, picture that person offering the same goodwill or love back to you, perhaps even sharing the same words back: “May you be healthy, may you be peaceful, may you be happy.” Imagine your heart being open, and being able to receive this love from them without judgment or need to analyze it. It’s just love, and receiving it doesn’t require anything back from you.
- Then, for your final layer to this week’s challenge…send this love to yourself. Picture yourself looking into a mental mirror, and repeat internally: “May I be healthy, may I be peaceful, may I be happy.” It may seem strange, but if you are capable of sending goodwill to others, and maybe even receiving it yourself from them, then you are capable of being both the source and the receiver at the same time.
Trust me…I know it’s different, it may feel uncomfortable, it may even take work, BUT it is exactly the practice your mind needs to develop the ability to honor your expectations for yourself over those you may think others have for you.
Plus, if you need a little motivation, you can always go back to this gem from not long ago.
Challenges aren’t supposed to be easy, and frankly, directing kindness towards yourself isn’t always easy, either. You will love what it does for you as a leader, though, not to mention a colleague and friend, including to yourself.