‘One of my teachers taught me to practice generosity by taking an object in my left hand and giving it to my right hand. This seemed a bit silly to me, but when I tried it, I detected subtle feelings of gratitude or stinginess, various tiny clenchings of holding back or grasping, and sometimes the ease of delight and joy. The inner details of actual giving are more complicated than you think. Starting the practice of generosity by being generous to yourself is the best way. But it is not just introductory. In fact, as most people come to see, being generous with yourself is advanced practice. It requires – and promotes – an honest self-respect and unselfish self-regard that many of us find quite tricky. We tend to ping between the extremes of self-attachment and self-denigration. Practicing self-generosity requires that you care about yourself in the same way you care about others – not more, not less. This is not easy to do.’ (The World Could Be Otherwise)
The first key to this passage is the ability to detect those subtle feelings. I often say the same about lovingkindness practice: the hardest one to offer is often to yourself, because we frequently feel we don’t deserve to receive it – in which case I suggest imagining a dear person saying it to you, since you are more likely to accept it from another than from yourself.