Metta to All Travelers

Two of my very favourite things: the city of Toronto, and airports. Imagine my joy then, when we got to stay at the Hilton directly across from Pearson this week while hubby attended a conference. (It was Arlo’s birthday! So we decided to tag along and spend a couple days visiting friends and walking the Toronto zoo to celebrate our big boy!)

So many minutes – hours, even – were spent standing at the window with the kids, watching planes take off and land. As I tucked them in at night, I laid in bed watching the sky grow dark, the moon come out, and the blinking lights of airplanes arriving at their destination, or jetting off into new lands. It is very soothing and exciting to me all at once to remember how much world exists outside my bubble. I love remembering that there are so many places left for me to explore, that there is more to life than what I see on a daily basis.

I also happen to really like (for the most part) city driving. If I’m passenger, I like to really investigate the people in cars that pass. I like to notice whether they appear happy or sad, anxious, or angry, and I like to smile at them. If I’m driving, my interest is more general, watching the cars weaving in and out, and reminding myself that each vehicle is carrying another human being, with loved ones, and lives of their own.

So this week has been full of wonderful observation and noticing for me, and sending of loving energy.

As I watched the planes, and as I drove down highways, I noticed all the people traveling to one place or another, anxious about the day ahead, and I sent them love. It feels really good to give this energy out: tiny blessings to all beings I encounter.

May all travelers around me be happy.
May they be well.
May they be free from suffering.
May they be peaceful.
May they know love.

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Accepting Love

Do you notice how easy it is to dwell on criticism? Whether self-inflicted, or handed down from another (perhaps even well-meaning) individual, I for one, carry a list in my head of every shortcoming I’ve ever become aware of. My parenting mistakes. My appearance. The horrible job interview I bombed. My tendency to over-share…. The list could go on.

Interestingly though, I don’t dwell the same way on every compliment I’ve ever received.

It can be hard to accept kindness, and it can be hard to accept love.

In my recent effort to love myself more completely, I’ve started noticing how often I feel closed off to receiving this energy. I notice that I regularly shoulder discomfort, or sacrifice joy, in order to make life easier for myself or others. I notice how difficult it can be to open myself to receiving love.

The other night, my husband gave me the most amazing – LONG – massage! It had been a rough week in our household, and his sweet gesture felt almost “too good to be true” on my tired muscles. But after a couple minutes, strangely, I noticed guilt feelings creeping into my mind! I was thinking how he must be tired and exhausted too, and questioned why I was deserving of receiving his effort.

And then I reminded myself that he loves me. Because of his love, I am deserving. And because of my own love, I am deserving.

Especially as a parent, I think we learn to give our love without question, or expectation. Logically, I know that my children love me, but I don’t often really *feel* that love, or pay attention to their expression of it. For example, this morning my daughter gave me the 300th drawing of the week. At that moment, I was in the middle of making her breakfast and packing her lunch at the same time while baby Arlo used my pant leg to practice his standing skills. “Look mama! This is for you!” Violet proudly shouted at me. I took a quick glance, and shouted back, “Wow! It’s so lovely! Thanks!” Then, as I reflected there, I reminded myself that her drawings really are her gifts to me – the only things she has to give. Her drawings are her way of showing me that she loves me. So, I stopped what I was doing, took a moment to really appreciate her work, crouched down beside her and gave her a big hug. Her love feels wonderful.

In the midst of our rough week (Arlo was super sick), when I was feeling completely maxed out and overwhelmed, my husband reminded me of how much he (my baby) loves me. It caught me a bit off guard. My baby needs me. But does he LOVE me? “You should see how he looks at you when you walk into the room after being gone,” my husband told me. So today I’m really tuning in to his smiles. I’m appreciating his snuggles, and the way he reaches out for me. Like his sister’s artwork, these little gestures are the only gifts he has to give me. I’m opening myself to that love, and it feels really good.

More on Self Love

I’m learning that metta is about more than speaking wishes. It’s about living them. How do I show my love to others? How can I show love to myself?

It’s really hit me how “empty” it can feel to repeat phrases like “May I be happy. May I know love,” when I’m not caring for myself fully on a day to day basis.

Why is it so easy to ignore our own needs?

What does self love look like?

Again, I look at my love for my children (the most complete, unconditional love I have ever known) as my example.

Because I love my children, I encourage them to trust and respect themselves – to listen to their bodies when they are hungry, thirsty, or tired. To take care of their bodies, and their appearances.

Because I love my children, I encourage them to seek out friends who are kind and relationships that are good for them (and let go of friends/relationships that don’t make them feel valued).

Because I love my children, I tell them that they are beautiful, that they are special, that they are enough. And I believe it.

Because I love my children, I take them places I know they will enjoy, and help them find activities that will bring them joy and nourish their spirits.

My love for my children is an ever-present wish for their happiness and wellbeing. It is a motivation to help them achieve happiness and wellbeing. It is acceptance of who they are, exactly as they are. I don’t want/need anything to change.

It is my wish to cherish and care for myself this same way.