Meeting my reactions with kindness

Or I can meet how I respond to anyone and anything with kindness and love, which shifts me into love for myself, others, and the world. It invites in love for myself, others, and the world. It helps me notice my nature as love.

Why would we want to do that? Because it feels good. It certainly feels better than the alternatives. And a clear heart supports a clear mind and clear actions. (We may find the three are the same.) And we may also find it’s coming home. It’s our nature when it’s unfiltered by being caught up in reactions.

How do we do it? There are training wheels. Here are some I find helpful: tonglen, ho’oponopono, the heart / Jesus prayer, inquiry (The Work of Byron Katie, Kiloby / Living inquiries), and the befriend & awaken process.

And what if I can’t always do it? Meet what comes up, the reaction to it, with kindness, and see what happens.

Finding our value independent of who we are, what we do, and others

In our culture, we are often trained to find our value in our roles, actions, how we appear to others, and by comparing ourselves to others. 

So how do we find our value independent of all of this? 


A good start may be to notice that, for us, babies have immense value even if they don’t do much in the world (apart from pooping and eating) and even if they all are more or less the same. For us, they have an inherent value. So why wouldn’t it be that way for us? And everyone else? 


We can find genuine love for ourselves.

We can shift our self-talk in a more kind and wise direction. (What we wish we had received as children.)

We can do tonglen or ho’oponopono with ourselves as a whole or parts of ourselves that feel unloved or we find difficult to find love for.

We can befriend the painful parts of us, listen to what they have to say, have a dialog with them, give them what they really want (often love, safety, support, etc.), and so on. Just recognizing that there are parts of us having this experience, and not all of us, can shift our relationship with it.

And we can do the same for others. Since they are mirrors for us, finding genuine love for others – no matter who they are or what they do, or what roles they have in the world – helps us find genuine love for more parts of ourselves. 


We can identify and inquire into painful beliefs and identities telling us we don’t have value. 

We can identify and inquire into any beliefs we have around ideas of value. This helps undo the whole construct for us. 

We can notice that any ideas of value and our own value (or lack thereof) are created by the mind. They are mental constructs and can only be found in our mental field. They come from our culture. They are not inherent in the world itself, or in ourselves as we are.  


We can find what we more fundamentally are in our own first-person experience.

We find ourselves as oneness and wholeness and not lacking anything. We find an immense value as what we are.

We find that all beings, most likely, are the same to themselves and have the same immense value.

We find it may be easier to recognize that any and all ideas about value are created by the mind and not inherent in what we are or anything is. 

And we may find the deep transformation that can happen when we notice our nature while also noticing and holding the parts of ourselves that feel unlovable and not valuable.


It’s not inherently wrong to find our value in our roles, actions, etc. But it is stressful. It means we are never quite enough. We always need to chase something. If life takes a turn so we lose our roles and ability to act in certain ways, it can be devastating to our sense of self-worth. And nobody benefits from that. Finding our value independent of all of this gives us a deeper sense of rest and we are more available to life. We are more able to follow our deeper guidance and what we genuinely love, and that typically benefits all of us.

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Love denial

In a conventional sense, this is how it is for many of us. We are unaware of the love in our life, or we sometimes ignore it. We are more focused on our painful beliefs and identities that prevent us from noticing or taking in the love that’s here – from others and even from ourselves.

And in a more fundamental sense, this is how it is for nearly all of us. The mind is fascinated by painful stories and identities and overlooks or is unable to take in the love we are.

In what sense are we love? To ourselves, we are capacity for our experience of the world. The world happens within and as what we are. We are oneness. And when we live from noticing that oneness, we are love. It’s that way whether we notice it or not, and we often don’t notice because the mind is fascinated by its painful stories about us, others, life, and existence.

What can we do about it?

A good start is to notice what’s happening. Our hangups and issues often prevent us from noticing and taking in the love that’s here from others and ourselves.

Another is to become a friend to ourselves. To find genuine love and (unsentimental) compassion for ourselves and our experience whatever it is. We can do this through dialog with parts of us, and different forms of heart-centered practices (tonglen, ho’o, metta).

Yet another is inquiry. What are my painful stories and identities? What do I find when I examine these? What’s already more true for me? How is it to live from what’s more true for me? Structured inquiry like The Work of Byron Katie and the Living Inquiries can help us with this.

And yet another is inquiry that helps us notice what we are and live from this noticing. The Big Mind process and Headless experiments can be very helpful here.

Drawing: Grumpy cat protecting herself from love. Artist unknown to me.

The miracle of love

The miracle of love
Will take away your pain

– Eurythmics, the miracle of love

Yes, the miracle of love will take away your pain.

And this is the love we give the hurting parts of ourselves.

It’s the love we meet our own hurt with.

That’s the only love that can heal.

That’s the only love that can touch these parts of us.

We are the only one who is in the position to give this to us.

It may seem it’s the love from others that does this – whether it’s a person or divine – but that love only reminds us of our own love. When we receive that love, we give ourselves permission to love these hurting parts of ourselves.

When I can give to myself what I want, it’s much better for me, you, and us

Earlier tonight, I noticed some restlessness and discomfort in me. My first impulse was to send a message to my partner or talk with her, or eat something. Then I noticed what was going on, I wanted to comfort myself through contact or food. And I decided to give what I wanted to myself instead and before doing anything else.

I noticed the uncomfortable part of me, and that it was, in many ways, like a little child wanting comfort. So I met it as a good friend or parent. I noticed the discomfort and how it feels. I gave it space. Said I love you. Found kindness and love for it. Respect. Patience. I allowed it to be as it is. Mostly, I met it with love at a feeling level and in how I related to it.

I also noticed it was like a confused seeker, someone seeking something without quite knowing what it’s seeking. So I met it as a guru would meet a seeker. I felt it as a flavor of the divine. Noticed my own true nature, and that its true nature is no different. I helped it to find its own true nature and rest in and as that.

When I give this to these parts of myself, I don’t need it from anyone or anything else. This helps me have a much more healthy relationship with, in this case, my partner and food. It takes out the compulsion.

All of this is a learning process. It’s approximate. I cannot do any of this fully. I am winging it. I am exploring. Playing with it to see what happens.

And that’s OK. That’s life. We learn as we go. In many ways, it’s better than if I could do any of it “perfectly”. Noticing that I am winging it and learning puts me on the level with everyone else. It’s an ongoing exploration and adventure. There is always more to learn and discover, and it keeps it playful.

Lao Tzu: kindhearted as a grandmother

When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.

– Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching

How can we become kindhearted as a grandmother?

How can we become kindhearted as a grandmother to ourselves?

Many of us have internalized an unkind way of relating to ourselves. At least to certain parts of us, and in some situations. So how can we invite this to shift into a more kindhearted way of being with ourselves?


As Lao Tzu suggests, one way is to notice what we are. We can find ourselves as capacity for the world, and what our field of experience happens within and as. That’s a start.

Here, we may notice that the true nature of all our experiences is the same as our own true nature. It’s all stillness. It’s all what we can call consciousness. It’s all a flavor of the divine.


There are also other ways to repattern how we relate to ourselves and our experiences, and we can do this whether we notice what we are or not.

We can engage in an intentional dialog with these parts of us. We already do, and this dialog is not always so kind. So why not engage in a more conscious and kind dialog? A part of us surfaces – as fear, anger, sadness, discomfort, reactivity, or something else. We can ask it how it experiences the world. How it sees us and how we often relate to it. What advice it has for us. We may get to see that it comes from a desire to protect us, and that it comes from care and love. (Even if how it goes about it is a bit misguided, although also understandable and innocent.) When we see this, we can thank it for being here and for it’s love and care. We can find ways of dialoguing with these parts of us as a kind and wise parents would with a child. And this is a learning process, it’s ongoing.

We can use heart-centered practices as a kind of training wheel. We can use ho’oponopono towards ourselves or these parts of us, and also whatever in the world triggered these parts of us. We can also use tonglen, or Metta, or any other similar approach.

We can explore the painful beliefs in how we typically react to certain parts of us. What are these beliefs? What happens when our system holds them as true? How would it be if they had no charge? What is the validity in the reversals of these thoughts? (The Work of Byron Katie.)

We can explore our fears, identities, and compulsions around this, and how they show up in our sense fields. What sensations are connected with it? How is it to notice and allow these, and notice the space they happen within and as? What do I find when I explore the mental images and words connected with this? What is my first memory of feeling this, or having those images and words? What happens when I notice how these sensations and mental representations combine to create my experience? And so on. (Living Inquiries, a modern form of traditional Buddhist inquiry.)

We can allow our body to release tension around this, for instance through therapeutic tremoring. (Tension and Trauma Release Exercises, neurogenic yoga.)

We can find a gentler way of being with ourselves through body-centered activities like yoga, tai chi, chigong, Breema, and so on.

We can learn to say YES to the NO in us. We can learn to welcome the parts of us that sometimes desperately don’t want to us to have a certain experience. These parts of us want to protect us and come from care and love.

We can learn to be with the energy of what comes up in a more gentle, kind, and loving way. With patience. Respect. Gentle curiosity. Allowing it to be as it is and unfold and change as it wishes.

We can spend time in nature. Nature shows us a gentler way. An allowing.


These approaches are all training wheels.

They can help us shift from an unkind way of being with ourselves, to a more kind way.

They help us find something that’s simple and natural.

They mimic how our mind naturally functions when it’s more healed and clear.

And they do so whether we notice what we are or not.

How thorough is our kindness? Does it extend to ourselves?

A year ago, Ari Behn, a Norwegian author (whose books I haven’t read), took his own life. His family and friends have been very open about the suicide, how he was with friends and family, and how they experience the loss.

A common theme was how kind and encouraging he consistently was with other people, and how interested he was in them. Several mentioned that he never said an unkind word about anyone. And yet, it seems that he may not have related to himself and his own experience with the same kindness.

The question is: how thorough is our kindness?

How thorough is our kindness at a personal level? Does it extend to our own experiences? To our fears, anger, sadness, pain, wounds, traumas, discomfort, compulsions, and so on? Does it extend to the thoughts we have about ourselves and the world? Does it extend to the ideas and images we have about ourselves and the world?

Does it go to where it really counts, which ultimately is in our relationship to our own experiences and thoughts?

The situation with the author brings up a couple of other things for me.

If we repress anger, frustration, and so on, it tends to build up and can become overwhelming and unbearable. (I am not saying he did this, but it does fit the pattern of someone who never says a bad word about anyone.)

Another is that a precursor to this suicide apparently was chronic fatigue and loss of roles and identities. This is a reminder to question and see through these before we lose them (which we will), or at least do it after they are gone and find some peace with it.

Of course, I didn’t know him or his life, and all of this is just what comes up in me from that story.

Parliament: Testify

Once I was a hollow man
In which a lonely heart did dwell
You know love came creeping upon me
Bringing life to an empty shell

Now I heard so many times before
That your love could be so bad
I just want to tell you people
It’s the best love I ever had

Don’t you know that 
I just want to testify
What your love has done for me
I just want to testify
What your love has done for me

Ooh, ooh luscious
Sure been delicious to me
Ooh, ooh luscious
Sure been delicious to me

I just want to testify
What your love has done for me
I just want to testify
What your love has done for me

Parliament, Deron Taylor / George S Clinton, Testify

I listened to this song by Parliament and realized it falls into place more for me when I turn it around to myself. (When I hear songs or watch movies or read stories or look at the world, I find it interesting to explore it as I would a dream, as if all aspects are in myself.)

I can understand the lyrics of Testify in a conventional sense, as someone who comes alive through the love of someone else. I allow myself to come alive because I tell myself I am loved and lovable.

And when I see that, I also realize I can give myself that love.

How can I give myself that love?

I can do loving things for myself (take a bath, make a good meal etc.).

More importantly, I can find love for whatever parts of myself come up, and especially those parts I previously have shunned and pushed away. I can find love for my experience as it is here and now, even if it’s uncomfortable and something I previously have shunned.

To get started, I can do this with the help of a structure. It can be a basic meditation such as natural rest. When I notice and allow my experience, as it is here and now, it’s a deep expression of love. It can also be a heart-centered practice such as ho’oponopno, tonglen, or metta. Or I can do it through a simple inquiry such as the Headless experiments or the Big Mind / Big Heart process.

If I want to be more thorough, I can also find and investigate any beliefs that prevent me from finding a deep and lasting love for myself. I can do this, for instance, through The Work or Living Inquiries. A common thought is that I am not worthy of love or I am unlovable. One of my thoughts is that the love of someone else (preferably a woman beautiful inside and out) is more important or worth more than my own love.

These are all very natural and understandable thoughts, and it can be a great relief and open up a whole new dimension of the world when the charge goes out of them (Living Inquiries) or we find what’s more true for us (The Work).

Victim identity: A cry for attention and love

For some of us, the victim identity can be very strong. The mind may even hold onto it as if it’s a matter of life and death.

Why is the need to hold onto something so painful so strong? What is the real need or wish within it? It must be something that our minds holds as very important. So important that it’s willing to create suffering for itself in the hopes of getting it.

To me, it seems that it comes from a deep need and wish for love and presence. For attention, understanding, comfort, love and presence. As long as that’s not met, the victim identification will continue to be fueled by the mind. In it’s trance, it may see it as the best or only way to get what it really needs and wants, which is that presence and love.

It works to some extent. When we go into victim identification, other people may give us some attention, understanding, and love. We may even have been trained by our parents that that’s how we get attention and love. And yet, it doesn’t really work. People may give it to us sometimes and not other times. And even if we get that presence and love from them, it’s not enough as long as we don’t give it to ourselves. We cannot truly take it in and experience it until we give it to ourselves.

So that’s the remedy. Our own presence and love is the remedy.

How do we give it to ourselves? There are a few different ways.

Natural rest. Notice and allow. Notice what’s here in experience and allow it. (Notice it’s already noticed and allowed.) Being present with it. This presence itself is a form of love.

Say “thank you for protecting me” to the part of us in pain. It’s here to protect us.

Say “I love you” to the part of us in pain. Say “you are allowed to be as you are”. Say “I am here with you and I love you”. Say “I am sorry. Please forgive me. I love you.”. Say any one of these over and over until it becomes a felt experience.

Imagine ourselves, or the hurting part of us, sitting in front of us. Do tonglen. Visualize that person’s suffering as dark smoke and breathe it in on the inbreath. Breathe out light (love, presence) and into the other person on the outbreath. See the person light up. Repeat many times until you really and deeply feel it.

Examine stressful and painful stories and identities. Use inquiry. (The Work, Living Inquiries. Something else.) This is also a form of presence and love. It cannot be done if there isn’t presence. And it’s a loving attention and examination, which may also reveal love when the painful stories and identities are seen more clearly for what they are.

Take care of the body. Do something soothing. Take a bath. Eat nourishing food. Drink plenty of water. Go for a walk. Be in nature. Be kind to yourself. Do yoga, tai chi, chi gong, Breema, TRE. (All of which are forms of presence and love.)

These are all ways we can shift how we relate to those parts of ourselves in pain. If we suffer, it’s because we tend to avoid or try to push these parts away. They are like animals or children who are ignored, avoided, struggled with, or even bullied. No wonder they suffer and are in pain. No wonder they cry out for our presence and love.

When we meet them in presence and love, they feel seen and honored and can relax. This takes time. We need to stay with it for a while. We need to return to it frequently, especially if these parts of us are used to being ignored or struggled with. An animal or child whose needs have been neglected needs time to learn to trust and relax, and that’s how it also is with these parts of ourselves. Giving our presence and love means giving of our time.

As mentioned above, one way to meet them in presence and love is through inquiry. Inquiry is a form of love. The process of inquiry is a process of presence and kind attention. And the outcome is that we see that what we thought was so solid and real (and painful) may not really be so solid and real. What’s more real and true is also more kind.

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Why self-love?

I recently wrote a post about the how of self-love.

Then there is the why. Why self-love?

A simple answer is that it’s what we all want. We all want love. Usually, we seek it from someone else. Someone else loves us, so we allow ourselves to love ourselves. But this is a precarious project. We won’t always get it from someone else, or the person we want it from. And this type of love may and does go away. So why not go directly to the source? Why not skip the middle man? Why not give it to ourselves?

Natural rest and love

Natural rest is a form of love. It’s noticing and allowing. It’s the reverse of rejecting and pushing away. It’s an alignment with the allowing that’s already here. It’s allowing what’s here, as it is. Even what may seem uncomfortable. It’s a love for what’s here. It comes from love for what’s here (even if it’s just a little bit of love and curiosity), and helps us find love for what’s here.

Love for a being often takes the form of noticing and allowing. And love for myself, my experience as it is here and now, can also take the form of noticing and allowing.

Inquiry and love

I know this is not how inquiry is usually talked about, but it is my experience.

For me, inquiry is about love. Finding love for the sensations, images, and words that are here.

Finding love for this experience.

Finding love for who and what I am. (Which is this field of experience, as it is, here and now. Which is all there is.)

I look at images and words. Ask simple questions to help me see what’s really there. Feel sensations. Ask simple questions to help release words and images from them. And it’s all about love. Finding love for what’s here.

Revealing the love that’s already here, for what’s already here.

Even revealing what’s here as love.

Scared animal

I find it helpful to look at parts of me as an animal. Whether these parts are emotions, impulses, sensations, or the body.

Some of these animals have been rejected, pushed away, battled, wounded, and traumatized. Some of them have been rejected my whole life. They are scared.

So how would I relate to a scared animal? With kindness. Patience. Love. Respect.

Why not relate to these parts of me as if they were a scared animal? Why not relate to them with kindness. Patience. Love. Respect.

It may be especially challenging at first. It means going against an old habit, and one that society (for the most part) has taught us is the way to do it. It’s a bit like going into a jungle or zoo full of scared and wounded animals.

It may be helpful to start, and sometimes continue, with the guidance of certain practices, such as tonglen, loving kindness, ho’oponopono, and natural rest. (Natural rest is a form of love. It’s noticing and allowing. It’s the reverse of rejecting and pushing away. It’s an alignment with the allowing that’s already here.)

And it does change. It’s transformative. My inner world changes. The animals relax through this patient attention, presence, and love. There is a softening.


Scott Kiloby: You might also find a kind of deep self-love

People sometimes ask if the point of the Living Inquiries is to realize near the end of the inquiry that there is no inherent self. Well…that is one thing that can happen. But you might also find a kind of deep self-love when you stop using inquiry to change your experience. This paradox of no inherent self to be found and also a delicious loving of ourselves as we are in the moment never needs to be reconciled intellectually. It is just grokked in experience when we stop using inquiry to change ourselves and our experience and merely allow it all, asking simple questions along the way in a non-violent, loving, accepting way.

– Scott Kiloby

Self-love is very simple, and yet not always easy (to notice). It’s a love for what’s here, as it is. A simple, ordinary, quiet love for sensations, sounds, smell, taste, words, images that are here now, as they are.

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The simplest self-love

I see that what I seek from (some) others is love. And that I have a sense of not being filled up enough with love. So why not give it to myself?

I can visualize myself, or a suffering part of me, or my heart, and…..

I wish you love. I wish you ease. (Metta, loving kindness.)

Breathe in my suffering. Breathe out love and clarity to myself. (Tonglen.)

I love you. Please forgive me. I am sorry. (Ho’oponopono.)

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