I like Maitri

I learnt about maitri from Pema Chodron.

maitri is “unconditional friendliness,” toward ourselves….

…it’s important to be clear about what maitri means and not to come away with a misunderstanding of maitri as some kind of indulgence, which actually weakens us and makes us less able to keep our heart and mind open to ourselves and the difficulties of our life. I often use this definition: maitri strengthens us.

One of the qualities of maitri is steadfastness, and that’s developed through meditation. So through boredom, through aches, through indigestion, through all kinds of disturbing memories, to edgy energy, to peaceful meditation, to sleepiness, it’s steadfastness. You sit with yourself, you move closer to yourself, no matter what’s going on. You don’t try to get rid of anything—you can still be sad or frustrated or angry. You recognize your humanity and the wide gamut of emotions you might be feeling.

When we cultivate maitri toward ourselves, we are also generating equanimity. Equanimity means we are able to be with ourselves and our world without getting caught in “for” and “against,” without judging things as “right” or “wrong,” without getting caught up in opinions and beliefs and solidly held views about ourselves and our world.

Unconditional friendliness is training in being able to settle down with ourselves, just as we are, without labeling our experience as “good” or “bad.”

In coming to terms with my cancer diagnosis and treatment, I’ve had to learn (and practice!) healthy coping mechanisms.

The concept of maitri has been a useful way to remind myself to be kind to myself, to challenge the negative thoughts, to not run away and hide.

With the current #metoo and #whyididntreport movements going on, there is a lot of talk of helping survivors of assault.

These practices are the same or similar to what I use for my cancer.

The key difference being having cancer is not stigmatised as being shameful – yet some supposed friends will avoid you anyway.

An article in the New York Times (I’ve lost the link) has some useful reminders of why I really need to keep my practice up:

Ask yourself: What do I need right now?

Practicing self-compassion, or self-care, is meant to mitigate feelings of shame and judgment, which are often experienced by assault survivors and PTSD sufferers.

Dr. Kristin Neff, a professor of human development and culture at the University of Texas at Austin who has spent the past decade researching self-compassion, says most of her work is in the “yin” side, the nurturing side. ….“I was helping them see that, yes, we need to heal, but sometimes we need to rock the boat to protect ourselves.” Dr. Neff called this the “yang” side of self-compassion; instead of soft self-compassion it was fierce self-compassion. Mama bear energy. “It’s about drawing your boundaries and saying, ‘It’s not O.K.,’ which is equally important in the practice of self-compassion,” she said.

Feel whatever you’re feeling

….“When you start to feel a lot of negative feelings, it’s easy to want to withdraw because it doesn’t feel good,” she said. “But feeling painful feelings is a huge part of self-care.”

There are healthy approaches to this, like journaling and crying when you need to; talking to a therapist or friend; and finding a shoulder to cry on.

Train your body, and your brain

…In her research, Dr. Shors found that mental and physical training, or “MAP” training, which includes practicing meditation for 30 minutes followed by 30 minutes of exercise twice a week, helped women recover from traumatic sexual experiences.

“Every time you have a thought about the past, you theoretically make a new memory. And in some cases it’s good to bring up the memory because you want to learn not to respond to them. But if they’re coming up in a stressful way, maybe not so much,”