I learned this meditation from a Sri Lankan monk who came to visit us at the Insight Meditation Society in the early 1990s. At age ninety-four, the Venerable Ananda Maitreya seemed to have more energy than the rest of us put together, and he was learning to use a computer, something I was struggling with at the time. How much of his vigor came from his repeatedly offering love to his body?

Focusing on different parts of the body in sequence, he had us repeat silently, “May my head be happy. May it be peaceful,” or “May my eyes be happy. May they be peaceful.” And on through the whole body.

We repeated this with our shoulders, our backs, our stomachs, parts we might normally term “bad,” as in the case of a sore knee we call a “bad” knee, those parts we would love to hide more than anything if clothing manufacturers could only get more inventive, those parts we are usually neatly distanced from. Ending with, “May my toes be happy. May they be peaceful.” Try it.

Excerpted from the book REAL LOVE by Sharon Salzberg. Copyright © 2017 by Sharon Salzberg. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved.

Originally published at medium.com