Self-love talk always freaks me out. It sounds cheesy, like a Saturday Night Live skit on affirmations.

I still am not really comfortable with the idea that I need to love myself. I mean, I understand it intellectually but can’t easily find a doorway into that love as a lived practice.

Please don’t send me invitations to ecourses to cultivate self-love or Oprah + Depak’s latest meditations on the subject. Really I get it. It is a good thing. I am just searching for a way to offer myself love that feels authentic and not forced.

But one thing I can understand is the need to stand with myself, even when I’m struggling.

Perhaps you too have noticed that those inner critic voices get louder when you are growing or changing?

So when you find yourself marching in lock step with your inner critic this is your clue to slow down… and offer yourself some kindness.

I love the Metta or lovingkindness meditation practice.

It has an awkward sound to it because we don’t have an exact translation for this sentiment of Metta into English. “Love” doesn’t quite cut it– it is too multivalent.

So lovingkindness is sort of a made up word and an effort to capture a positive sensation we experience in the body.

Historically the meditation starts with offering a set of blessings to yourself and extending them to others: first a friend or benefactor, a “neutral person” like your UPS delivery man, and ultimately (if you are feeling brave) to someone who irritates you or has hurt you in the past. Lastly we extend the blessings to the whole world.

Increasingly some meditation teachers flip it, and invite you first to call to mind someone you love and offer the blessings to them. Then once your heart is warmed up, you can offer the kindness to yourself. Apparently this is because some of us have such a hard time generating that feeling of loving kindness for ourselves.

This inability to authentically offer ourselves kindness is a serious problem.  A major roadblock to being happy and present.

Because if we only stand with ourselves internally when we think we “did a good job” or “got it right” then our love is quite fickle. And we spend a lot of time trying to earn that external approval because we can’t depend on ourselves to offer it.

Here is your week three practice, recorded one evening al fresco out under the stars.


We live on a street realtors describe as “a country lane in the city” which is near a creek and quite wooded.  Lots of bugs and an occasional car driving by find their way into this recording. You can use all those noises as an extra invitation to stay with the mantras– but if you find it too noisy feel free to try an earlier version here. 

And Now Choose Your Commitment!

Take a moment right now, a few breaths, close your eyes and feel into your body. What is the right commitment for you?

Could you do this loving kindness meditation for 10 minutes every day?

Or maybe 3 times a week? Or just once right now?

Share your commitment in a reply to the post. Share it with a friend or on social media (Don’t forget to tag me + use #summerofmeditationchallenge).

Remember there is no behind in the Summer of Meditation Challenge! Just begin today and set your intension for this week.



Summer of Meditation Challenge 2016

Come on in. Feel the fresh and verdant air. Let’s detox your brain and nervous system so new ideas and iterations of you can bloom!

Photo Nov 12, 6 14 05 PMCourtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life and leadership coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a popular blog on soulful living. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram, meditation, and MindBody practices as well as supporting other “soulpreneurs,” aka women who want to lead with heart in their work + lives. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three children and remember to water their garden boxes. Courtney can be reached at