Taken from Pema Chodron’s book Comfortable with Uncertainty

“‘The Shambhala teachings speak of “placing our fearful mind in the cradle of lovingkindness.’ Another image for maitri (lovinkindness) is that of a mother bird who protects and cares for her young until they are strong enough to fly away. People sometimes ask, ‘Who am I in this image, the mother or the chick?’ The answer is we’re both, both the loving mother and those ugly little bird chicks… We stay with ourselves and others when we’re screaming for food and have no feathers and also when we are more grown up and appealing by worldly standards…Sometimes we feel good and strong. Sometimes we feel inadequate and weak. But like mother-love, maitri is unconditional…. When we start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline we think that somehow we’re going to improve, which is a subtle aggression against who we really are. It’s a bit like saying, ‘If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.’ ‘ If I had a nicer house, I’d be a better person. If I could meditate and calm down I’d be a better person.'”

Or the scenario may be that we find fault with others. We might say. ‘If it weren’t for my husband, I’d have a perfect marriage. If it weren’t for the fact that my boss and and I don’t get on, my job would be just great. And if it weren’t for my mind, my meditation would be excellent.’ But lovingkindess – maitri toward ourselves, doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are. That’s what we come to know with tremendous curiosity and interest. Curiosity involves being gentle, precise, and open- actually being able to let go and to open. Gentleness is a sense of good heartedness toward oursleves. Precision is being able to see clearly, not being afraid to see what’s really there. Openness is being able to let go and to open. When you come to have this kind of honest, gentleness, and good heartedness, combined with clarity about yourself, there’s no obstacle to feeling lovingkindness for others as well.”