“Turbulent days and the gift of kindness ~Loving kindness meditation”
Not the original blog post intended, I felt compelled to share this today. I feel the challenges of this past week has guided me back. This is really the kindest of meditation practices.
Spending very long days with a hurting loved one in the hospital took away my ability to get out and walk, or settle quietly to look for my peace. So, in the chaotic came the invitation from compassion. The compassion that is honest (“yeah, this worry and waiting really stinks”…but the sun is shining through the sealed shades and closed windows. “This may not have a happy ending”…true yet there is someone laughing down the hall. I like to call it “life whispers” because there is always a little something to offer kindness to you, or someone for you to offer your smile to).
Loving-kindness meditation is a way to soothe yourself and shine some compassion with the world you share too. It is said that this style comes from the Buddha’s teachings, as an antidote to fear. In a world that waves fears in our face quite often, this practice is like an unopened gift we have. With a little patience and desire to bring it forward it will blossom.
It is not so critical to follow a myriad of rules here, yet there are a few guidelines that can help.
~Start with yourself. How many times have you heard “you must love yourself before you can love others.” Well even if that does not hold a truth for you now, it is a crucial foundation to meet yourself with some kindness. Not forced or contrived, but a gentle space to hold.
~Allow the difficult. This practice is really about befriending ourselves. In this process feelings and questions will awaken. Sometimes right before the peaceful place there is a spot that pushes our buttons. As we learn to just allow the flow of thoughts and doubts we are growing. We are setting a fertile place for the solid and kind to awaken.
~Find your “cozy” word, phrase or “sensory blanket.” Words such as “May I be peaceful” are a good start.
When that feels comfortable try encompassing another living being, “may others know peace.” Some people may be more comfortable with using images or sounds. “Let the warm sun shine on my family”; “Send a healing light to my neighbor”
As this all feels more familiar (and it will. Awkward at first, yet as we practice it settles us and befriends a deep longing) we may add “sending kindness to a difficult person or painful situation.” This does not have to be rushed or forced. It is not easy yet it is truly healing. Yet if we are not ready to try this it is really ok. One day this little space may just open and you find what once felt so difficult just happens.
~Invite the breath, the body to join. “Breathing in I am open, breathing out I share peace.”
“Feet on the ground, solid. Breath warm and strong.” Try out a few phrases or “mantras.”
What feels best will reveal itself.
“I fly, I soar, released from past, unbound from future. Earth and sky meet me in this everlasting moment. I am here now.” ~Elisabeth Blaikie
Loving-kindness meditation is a wonderful way to work with our fears, insecurities and anger (at ourselves or others). It is a worthwhile endeavor whether you commit to a weekly or daily practice. The more it is done, the greater the benefit. It is not difficult to learn or do. It does require a certain sense of commitment and desire. It is a healing practice that takes what is already within you. Loving-kindness, compassion and forgiveness are universal. Life can hide them from us. Stress creates walls around our hearts. A bit of this meditation practice can melt away these walls.
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