Become Your Own Best Friend – The practice of Maitri

Written by Cassandra E. 500 RYT
@casseyoga

Throughout life we find ourselves constantly tending to relationships with our friends, partners, and family, and we can miss the opportunity to build a loving relationship with ourselves.  For a good part of my adult life I had zero trouble accessing kindness and compassion for others, but found it difficult to grant that same compassion to myself.  I could easily forgive everyone else’s mistakes or faults, but I couldn’t grant myself the same leniency.  In the early years of my yoga practice, one of my mentors introduced me to a Buddhist concept known as Maitri. 

Maitri is a Sanskrit word that commonly translates to loving kindness or friendliness to oneself.  My teacher described it as “being your own best friend”, which felt like such a profound idea at that time, but also very unfamiliar.  As many of us do, I had always looked for acceptance and love from an outside source, but to know that I could cultivate it within myself, left me feeling hopeful and inspired. So, I began my transformative journey towards unconditional self -love, and although it has not always been easy, it has been worth it.  One of the most important nuggets of wisdom I gained, was the ability to recognize and lovingly accept my own humanity. After all, we can only show compassion and love to others at the capacity we hold it for ourselves.  So how do we begin cultivating an attitude of unconditional friendliness to ourselves? Here are a few ways I have incorporated the practice of Maitri into my life, my teachings, and my practice.

Remind yourself that EVERYONE , including you-including me, is worthy of love, warmth, and kindness. The first step to Embracing Maitri, is Believing you are worthy of love and compassion, Just AS You Are!!

. “You yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”~ The Buddha

Notice when you are having harsh or self-deprecating thoughts.  When you see yourself thinking in a damaging way, meet yourself with compassion, practice replacing negative thoughts with positive heartfelt reminders, and remember not everything you think is True.

This one is a biggie for me, Forgive yourself for not being perfect. No such thing, by the way! Appreciate your individuality, embrace your flaws, and try not to compare yourself to others. Give yourself permission to be a hot mess, to make mistakes, and to just Be Human.

Become Your own Best Friend!! Treat yourself like you would treat a dear friend. Provide support for your well-being, shower yourself with positive encouragement, and honor your needs. BFFs for Life!!

Develop a meditation practice. Here is one I share with my students and use in my own personal practice:

Find a comfortable seat

Tune into your breath

Connect with your heart

Repeat this message as many times as you need:
May I be happy, healthy, safe, and live with ease.

As you feel more comfortable embracing these words for yourself , practice sending this loving message to others (loved ones, someone you are in conflict with, or someone neutral)

Lastly, Be patient, Remember this journey towards unconditional self-love takes time, encourage yourself to stay the course!

Be Well Friends,
Cassandra