Let’s talk about friendship.
Have you ever had a friend who was unconditionally supportive, loving, and always there for you?
When I think of my closest friends and what it is about them that I really love and value, I always come up with the same thing. They are always there for me. No. Matter. What. Through the good times and through the downright ugly times.
Good friends are steadfast.
They are the ones who fly into town to help you dress and bathe when you break your arm, who go to your house at midnight to walk your dogs when you are at the hospital caring for a loved one, they are there to wipe your snotty face when your boyfriend dumps you and there to take you out and celebrate when no one else remembers your birthday.
These are the moments when you recognize the beauty of your friends. Happy hours and girls’ get-a-ways and shopping sprees are fun, but when the going gets rough, true friends are there to love you, support you, and carry you when you can’t remember how to carry yourself.
Pema Chodrun, my favorite Buddhist nun, defines maitri one of the important Buddhist virtues, as “unconditional friendliness.” Inspired by Pema’s book How to Meditate where she speaks about cultivating “unconditional friendliness” towards oneself, I started to contemplate what that might actually look like.
We learn how to be friends with each other and hopefully we learn how to support one another when times are tough, but most of us have never been taught how to create an atmosphere of friendliness and loving-kindness within our own selves. We haven’t entered into a supportive and respectful friendship with our own bodies, minds, and spirits.
Maitri, or unconditional friendliness, is not some sort of self-indulgence. Rather it is an understanding that we have the capability to be our own best friend, our own best caretaker. Pema says that maitri makes us strong.
Unconditional friendliness makes us strong.
So, how can we develop more friendliness towards ourselves? I suggest we start with changing our self talk and creating a better partnership with our bodies.
Have you ever noticed the way you talk to yourself? If most of us spoke to our friends the way we speak to ourselves, we wouldn’t have any friends at all! We can begin to practice maitri by changing the way we speak to and about ourselves.
Radically accept yourself. Start accepting yourself right now: your gorgeous smile and your cellulite, your frizzy hair and loud laugh, the relationship you screwed up and that promotion you got. Can you recognize your own beauty and find beauty in your imperfections? We do that for our friends all the time.
Give up being perfect! It’s so boring! Besides, “perfect” is such a relative concept that there is no way of ever knowing if you have achieved it! Perfection doesn’t exist. Except for the perfection of all our imperfection!
Accept yourself the way you are, the same way you accept your friends.
Have you ever noticed how you think your friends are beautiful, intelligent, funny and amazing even though they can’t always see it for themselves? You accept them how they are even though they only see their so-called faults? Acceptance doesn’t mean complacency or not wanting anything to change. Just as you accept your friends while still wanting them to improve their situations (careers, relationships, health etc.) start accepting yourselfas you are even as you continue to evolve into an even more fabulous version of yourself! Acceptance is not about settling for less, but rather about loving yourself into any changes you want to make rather than shaming and blaming your way into change.
You love your friends even when they have a bad day right? When they aren’t perfect and lose their temper or gain five pounds or date all the wrong men?
Well now start to do that for yourself. Start to cultivate appreciation for your own quirks. You are imperfectly perfect, exactly as you are.
What is one way you can be your own best friend?
I would love to hear your comments and feedback on how you can develop maitri – unconditional friendliness – for yourself so please post below!
And if you really want to practice unconditional friendliness for yourself, join me for my next group program Radiant You – essential habits for inner and outer body beauty. We begin March 23rd and spaces are already filling quickly. This transformational coaching program will guide you into a friendly and respectful partnership with your body, your intellect, and your spirit while creating habits that support and nourish you as you step more fully into the life you were designed to live. If you want to increase your energy, live at your optimal weight, deepen your yoga practice, create a more easeful relationship with life, learn better self-care, and go from feeling pretty good to feeling great, then email me here to set up a time for us to have a conversation about the possibility of working together.
Remember, maitri makes us strong. So be unconditionally friendly with yourself in order to create the strength to offer friendliness to all others in your life. Work on creating loving and kind thoughts towards yourself and next week we will talk about practical ways to create a more supportive friendship with your body.
lovin’ you and all your imperfections!