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The Practice of Maitri

I learned the concept of Maitri from Buddhist monk, Pema Chodren. Maitriis a Sanskrit word meaning unconditional acceptance of, or loving kindness towards, ourselves.

Loving kindness for others, or the genuine care and appreciation for every individual, is a worthy goal, but sometimes difficult to achieve. Maitiri, or applying this concept to oneself, is even harder and for people struggling with an eating disorder, it can seem completely out of reach.

I have found that helping my clients practice loving kindness towards others helps them learn how to transfer it to themselves.

Practicing loving kindness involves everyone you meet, not just your favorite people, or those you want to be kind, loving, respectful and generous to. The true practice includes offering loving kindness to those who irritate, frustrate and anger you, the people you have the most difficulty loving. (Hint: this includes yourself)

When practicing loving kindness you separate the person from their actions, loving them for who they are rather than what they do, honoring a person’s strengths and forgiving their weaknesses.

Once mastering loving kindness towards others, it is just one more step to Maitri, or giving this to yourself. There is no denying that you are a person too, and this means you too deserve love and respect, you too warrant honor for your strengths and forgiveness for your weaknesses.

This is Maitri; knowing that even though you have flaws, even though you make mistakes, even though you aren’t perfect, you are human, loveable and worthy.

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