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I imagine that many folks reading this have some familiarity with a specific meditation practice called "loving kindness" meditation, in which one thinks of a specific person and directs feelings of gratitude and appreciation toward him or her.

It can be any person you genuinely love; the idea is to luxuriate in the good feelings that arise when you think of this person.

I often do mine toward my daughter Daphne; it's very easy to summon positive feelings toward her.

If you're new to this practice, it's better start with people toward whom it's easy to feel love and gratitude. You naturally want them to be safe, to thrive, to not suffer, and to be happy.

As you do it more, it becomes easier to feel these positive emotions toward people who don't naturally evoke your gratitude, and even, possibly, eventually, some difficult people in your life.

But I think the heart and power of the practice (known as metta in the original Vedic literature in Pali) is to wish oneself well. Many of us find this really hard to do. We're all so self-critical.

Here's something I find helpful: most of us have photos of ourselves as children, and can recollect fragments of who we were back then, say ages 3 to 6. I find it natural to wish this little one well. It doesn't require any special effort or contortion to feel love and kindness toward this early version of ourselves.

You can even imagine yourself as an older child, say ages 9-12, and simply decide to be in his/her corner with wishes of loving kindness.

Then our teenage selves, hard as that may be for some, especially me!

And so on.

Be on your own side. It makes life so much easier, and better.

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