Who do you talk to the most? Is it to friends, colleagues — or maybe even to yourself?
Most of us talk to ourselves almost constantly. Sometimes the voice in our head is happy, euphoric even. Other times, she’s more pensive and thoughtful. And then other times she morphs into our little inner critic, who’s annoyed at everything, especially at our own selves.
In these moments, meditation can strengthen us by taking a step back from the constant flow of thoughts and a step forward in self-love. In addition, self affirmations can help shape our inner voice into more of an ally and less of a critic.
A gentle reality check
The term ‘monkey mind’ originated from Buddhist meditation teachings and refers to when our thoughts become chaotic, jumping around from this one to that one like a rambunctious monkey. Sometimes an outpouring of many different thoughts at once can be constructive; sometimes it’s not constructive at all.
Is the animal house in your head getting a little too rowdy? Then it can help to be mindful and notice things aside from our thoughts. Focus on the way our body feels and the way we breathe — and then notice how our surroundings look, sound, feel.
The more we focus on our sensory perceptions of the real world, the sooner we can distance ourselves from the world we’ve created inside of our heads. This is the basis for finding a more caring and loving approach to ourselves as we really are and doing something good for ourselves. We can start by focusing on the breath in a breathing meditation, yet there are other mindfulness practices that can also help bring the chaos to stillness.
Yet what if we don’t simply want to pause our thoughts, but also shape them to be more tender towards ourselves? Then another ancient Buddhist practice could help strengthen, in particular, our practice of self-love.
An exercise for increased self-love
Some of us might recognise what’s often called ‘loving kindness meditation’ as metta meditation. The word ‘metta’ means precisely that and it has its origins in the sacred Pali language, which date back to the 3rd century BCE.
According to one study, loving kindness meditation might be able to reduce excessive self-criticism and instead show more compassion might help self-critical individuals become less self-critical and more self-compassionate, as well as help reduce depressive symptoms and increase positive emotions. . Other studies, including a study from the Harvard Review of Psychiatry, suggest it can enhance positive feelings in daily life  .
How does loving kindness meditation work?
This type of meditation is focused on how being kind to ourselves is inextricably tied to the kindness of others. During our medication practice, we send good wishes to ourselves as well as to others. These phrases then become mantras filled with positive affirmations.
To carry this out, we go to a quiet place and set a timer, close our eyes and take slow, deep breaths in and out. We visualise someone special to us, from the past or present and we picture them sending us their love. As we imagine receiving their warm wishes, we play them back to ourselves. Something like, ‘May I be happy’, for example. We can say them out loud, whisper them softly or just say them in our heads, whatever feels best.
Then, we visualise someone else and we send them the very same wish: ‘May [so and so] be happy’. We can then expand the circle to include the people in our immediate surroundings, and go one step further by including people in general: ‘May others be happy’.
When we finish, we take a slow, deep breath in and out again and notice how we feel. And when we’re ready, we open our eyes.
Over time, we can add more affirmations, as we wish. What’s important is that we keep the order: We first receive the loving kindness, and then we send it to someone else and slowly expand the circle to include others.
The mantras might look different for each of us. Just make sure that the sentences always remain positive. So for example, rather than say ‘May I not get sick’ try framing it as, ‘May I be healthy’. Apart from that, it is entirely up to you how these wishes go; whatever feels right and good for you.
Evening rituals for self-love
You can strengthen your self-love through a loving kindness meditation or another mindfulness exercise — or something else entirely. Creating your own rituals can support you by turning self-care into a natural habit.
Evenings can be an especially good time to calm down and establish your very own practice of self-love. Maybe you might try this with a special cup of tea, a good book or The Good Night Creme. That last one, in particular, can also help you sleep better thanks to its CBD and natural melatonin — so that you can start the next day mindfully.
Our wish to you: May you be happy and full of self-love!
 A wait-list randomized controlled trial of loving-kindness meditation program for self-criticism https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24633992/
 The effect of loving-kindness meditation on positive emotions: a meta-analytic review https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01693/full
 Compassion and Loving-Kindness Meditation: An Overview and Prospects for the Application in Clinical Samples https: // journals.lww.com/hrpjournal/Abstract/2018/07000/Compassion_and_Loving_Kindness_Meditation__An.3.aspx