Self-Esteem Meditation, How to Improve Self-Esteem

By Tergar Staff • 8 min read

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Self-Esteem is Key

It’s really important to have self-esteem — we hear that a lot, and we might believe it, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. Sometimes when we try to believe in ourselves, dark clouds of doubt or even self-loathing gather. Sure, it’s possible to fake confidence, but what is the trick to building genuine self-esteem?

Right now, right here, your true nature is wonderful, pure, and perfect. This is true regardless of what kind of person you are, what social class or categories you might fit into, what gender or race you identify with, where on the map you come from, or what your past history consists of.

But merely being told that this is the case is not enough, of course. To build self-esteem, you need to know what the good qualities within you actually are. And there are so many of them! To start with, you have wisdom, love, and compassion. You have knowledge, skills, and powers. Some of these capabilities you’re aware of, some of these you take for granted, and some you’re not conscious of. In all probability, you don’t have a realistic sense of how truly capable you are.

Why is it Hard to See Our Good Qualities?

Our fundamental nature is good, yes. But most of the time, we are tossed on waves of desire, craving, anger, pride, ignorance, and jealousy. “I’ve got to get a better apartment. I’m desperate for cash. My boss doesn’t see that I do his job better than he does. I have no idea how to fix this relationship. My best friend always has someone, and I’m still single — it’s not fair!”

In Buddhism, these powerful emotions are referred to as “the five defilements” or “the five poisons.” They influence our behavior, creating untold suffering: problems in our relationships, depression, panic, lack of self-love, physical disease, and problems for the environment, too.

Doesn’t that Just Prove I’m Bad?

Nope! Not at all. It just proves that we’re only familiar with these poisons. Our minds grab these five defilements and stick with them. That’s because we don’t know how to access the deeper, more profound levels of our consciousness. Your mind is like a lake of pristine water. There are ripples and waves on the surface, but beneath that, the water remains pure. The real quality of mind is pure and pristine: it has awareness, genuine love, and compassion. The poisons, the negative emotions, exist only on the surface. This is the Buddhist way to view your true nature: seeing wisdom within the defilements.

“You are not the limited person you think you are. Any trained Buddhist teacher can tell you with all the conviction of personal experience that, really, you’re the very heart of compassion, completely aware, and fully capable of achieving the greatest good, not only for yourself, but for everyone and everything that you can imagine.”

– Mingyur Rinpoche –

Meditation to Connect with Your Wisdom

Here is one meditation technique to go through defilements and out to the other side:

  1. Take a meditation position: keep your spine loosely straight, and let your body relax. If you find that you can’t relax, just allow that to be true — that in itself is to be relaxed! You can gently close your eyes, or leave them slightly open, whichever feels most comfortable.
  2. Ask yourself, from deep within your heart, “What do I really want?”

The answer you get first may be from the surface level, from desire — for example, “I want enough money to feel secure; I want a wonderful partner who understands me; I want to get up and make lunch.”

  1. Go deeper. Ask yourself, “Let’s say that I get all these things I want. What would I want then?” You will find there are many layers to the answer. Let go of the surface answer and go deeper and deeper. Keep asking until you find something meaningful. Each person will discover something a little bit different. Some will touch on the wisdom of love, the wisdom of compassion, the wisdom of impermanence, or nonconceptual wisdom. It might be something entirely different. Maybe you cannot even put a name to it – you sense that it’s your true feeling, but maybe it’s impossible to put it into words. That’s okay.
  2. Whatever you find has arisen after asking this question and trying to connect with your deep wisdom, let it be. Don’t fix your mind on it. Appreciate it and rest your mind in that state of awareness.
  3. To end the session, open your eyes and just rest for a few moments. Take in the environment around you, the sights and sounds. If you like you can rotate your shoulders, or wiggle your fingers and toes.

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About the Author

By Tergar Meditation Community Team

Tergar Meditation Community supports individuals, practice groups, and meditation communities around the world in learning to live with awareness, compassion, and wisdom. Grounded in the Tibetan Buddhist lineage of our guiding teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, our online and in-person programs are accessible to people of all cultures and faiths, and support a lifelong path toward the application of these principles in everyday life.

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