by:  Loden Nyima, Resident Teacher at DMC

All of us long for connection.  It’s just part of what we are.  From a Buddhist point of view, it’s actually a form of our innate compassion, even if it’s all tangled up into loneliness or grasping at others to make us feel at ease.  The irony is, we’re connected already…but more on that in a bit.  

We all want friends to talk to, people to share life with, to enjoy the ups and support the downs, people to understand us, to love us, etc.  To a greater or lesser extent, we want to offer that to others, in one big cycle.  And that’s a wonderful thing!  

And, we’re actually the only ones who can give that to ourselves completely.  The more we offer unconditional love to ourselves, the more loving and healthy our relationships with others will be.  The more we have to give, the more our innate compassion unfolds and embraces others. The more that happens, the more we feel how much of that also comes our way.    

We are the only ones who are with ourselves constantly, through every single moment of our life, and even our death.

So, why not make friends with ourselves?  

We can do this by accepting ourselves completely, exactly the way we are.  We can give ourselves unconditional love and support by being willing to feel exactly what we feel.  We can breathe with it all, remaining, being, trusting, loving.  This is what we do in meditation.  

Whether what we experience is pleasurable, painful, insightful, confusing, the whole mix—whatever comes our way—we can feel it all.  We don’t have to be trapped in our inner monologues like a prison of our own thoughts.  We can be with our breathing, feel our breathing, become our breathing.  We’re naturally present, naturally connected, naturally feeling beings.  We can just feel, breathe, allow, and be.  It’s a profound form of listening.  

As we do, we’ll likely encounter periods of rest and relief, and periods of more emotional upheaval.  We may even encounter trying very hard to meditate properly and judging ourselves harshly if we feel like we’re not.

The trick is to feel and allow it all with softness, friendliness, acceptance,and trust; to just invite it into our breathing, into our body breathing.  When we give ourselves and those experiences lots of warmth and space, it’s like holding and soothing an upset child or pet—like that, but with ourselves, with our breathing.  And, if we find we’re being “hard on ourselves”, then we can be “soft about being hard on ourselves”—ie, we can hold that too, just as it is.*  Everything, everything, everything, is allowed, invited, and included.    

This is the practice of making friends with ourselves.  

The more we do this, the more we can come home to our natural contentment, peace, and well-being.  And, the more that our capacity to feel our connectivity, our compassion, can unfold and embrace others, eventually, everyone and everything.  

We’ve never actually been separate, we’ve never been isolated.  We’re made of the elements of the earth, as is everything and everyone we encounter on a daily basis.  We’re made from our parents, shaped by our experiences, sustained by the work of others, sustaining others with ours.  Loving, hating, being loved, being hated—it’s all in connection with others.  

We’ve never been alone.  We’ve just been trapped.  And we can be free.    

*For more on working with strong emotions, see my other article “Our Self-Healing, Self-Rejuvenating Mind”

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About the Author:  Loden Nyima

Gelong Loden Nyima is a fully ordained Buddhist monk. He lived at Gampo Abbey from 2009 – 2017 where he practiced intensively, completed Shedra studies, and served in various roles including as a Shastri. He now lives at Drala Mountain Center where he serves as Resident Teacher and a founding faculty member for the Summer Seminar and other programs. He spends a portion of each year in retreat, frequently travels to continue his own dharma education, and can often be seen jogging around the land at DMC.

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