HEART TO HEART: Loving Kindness
By Carolyn Costin & Keesha Broome
Reprinted from Eating Disorders Recovery Today
Summer 2008 Volume 6, Number 3
©2008 Gürze Books
"We can love someone for his own sake, not because he is worthy or unworthy, not because he is loving towards us or he isn't." —Pema Chodron
Loving kindness: genuine care and appreciation for the well being of another; a respect for everyone's values. This is a worthy concept and also one that seems almost impossible at times. For people struggling with eating disorders, personal loving kindness is almost non-existent. That's why it is so important to initiate this practice toward others so we can learn to translate it to ourselves. But practicing loving kindness should not just be saved for our favorite people. The true practice is offering this to those who irritate, frustrate and anger us—the people we have the most difficulty loving. Having patience with others allows space for separating people from their actions. Loving someone for who they are rather than what they do means honoring a person's strengths and forgiving his or her weaknesses. By doing this we start to accept that we are all human, and it is this alone that makes us deserving of love.
Once people struggling with eating disorders have mastered loving kindness toward others in their life, it will be easier to practice the same self-respect. If we can recognize other peoples' soul selves, we will then have the tools to recognize our own. We will start to understand that even though we have flaws, make mistakes, and aren't perfect, we are lovable and worthy. We will know that souls have worth, not bodies. When we begin to shower ourselves with loving thoughts, kind and loving actions will follow.
One concept is called truth without judgment, and loving kindness speaks to this idea. Separating judgment from our true feelings and thoughts allows for deeper respect and more honest communication, which in turn, makes room for more love. When we are able to speak our truth in a kind manner, we can honor all people for their being and not their doing. We can value someone for their own sake regardless of how they are or aren't towards us. And for those of us struggling with eating disorders, we can show that truth without judgment and true loving kindness begins in our relationships with ourselves. As we love ourselves, we can resolve personal conflicts and make way for global respect.