Nowadays, especially in these modern times, we have low self-esteem. There is a lot of self-criticism, and it can be very strong. It may cause us to lose energy and can become problematic for our lives.
But in Tibetan Buddhism, the first practice is appreciation. Having appreciation for yourself, for the world, and for your life is really important. Why? Because we all have basic innate goodness. Our true nature is wonderful!
How can we discover that true nature? One of the practices we can do is appreciation. When we begin to appreciate, we can make a lot of great discoveries from within ourselves. There are unlimited treasures within ourselves.
One of the simplest practices is what we call “the five self-riches.” We appreciate five things about ourselves. This practice has been really beneficial for me, and it was one of my first practices, so I would like to share it with all of you. The five appreciations practice is very simple! In a way it does not look like anything special, but actually these are the most special.
The first one is what we call mingye—being human. That is a great thing, isn’t it? So first, we appreciate this human life.
The second is “having been born in a central place,” meaning that we have been born with freedom, and especially, with spiritual choices. We can have a lot of spirituality available if we really want to engage in that. So we appreciate that.
The third is having our senses. It is amazing, isn’t it? We have eyes, ears, a nose, a tongue, and a body. All of these are actually amazing!
The fourth is that once we have been born in a spiritual environment, everybody has freedom, right? You can choose your own path, and this freedom is wonderful! Appreciate this freedom.
The last one is having basic innate goodness. Actually, at a deeper level, love and compassion, wisdom, and awareness is our fundamental nature.
These are the five things.
Now we are going to practice appreciation by meditating together. Please keep your spine loosely straight. If you want, you can close your eyes. Relax the muscles in your body. Relax your head, shoulders, back, arms, and legs.
Now, please appreciate having this body. It is amazing that we have this body. Appreciate that I’m alive now, and I am breathing. How wonderful! I was born with spiritual freedom. I can choose. I can choose to practice meditation. This is wonderful! The spiritual path is wonderful! And I have my senses. Whatever senses you have, appreciate them. Appreciate that you have these wonderful eyes; ears so you can hear the teachings; a nose so you can smell things; a tongue that tastes wonderful, delicious food; and bodily sensations also.
Appreciate that I have a path to follow in the world. There are great works that were laid out by great beings, and I can follow that. I can go on the right path if I choose to. Again, this is the freedom to choose your path. Appreciate that. I have wonderful basic innate goodness. Awareness is my true nature, love and compassion are my innate qualities, and I have wisdom. Appreciate your basic innate goodness.
Now, please open your eyes, and you can see the world. It is wonderful!
We need to learn how to appreciate like that. Sometimes we say that if we have ten qualities, and nine are positive and one is negative, normally we ignore the nine positive things in ourselves and exaggerate the one that is negative. We only see the one that is negative, and we exaggerate it. But if you practice appreciation and gratitude in this way, you will discover great qualities within yourself!
Adapted from “Am I Not Enough? How to Work with Self-Criticism” on Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s YouTube channel.