Life can be pretty tough sometimes. And sometimes, people we come into connection with can appear to be difficult, obstructive, or sometimes rude and aggressive. We can get home after a days work, wondering what happened and left with our feelings and thoughts, which may be creating stress in us.
The traditional Loving Kindness Practice is a great way to come back to your own centre and to manage any negative feelings, with the intention of bringing greater compassion into yourself and the world around you.
There are a number of versions of the Loving Kindness Meditation. We have shared our favourite way of bringing more compassion into our lives below…
- Set yourself some time, with the intention of doing the whole process – ideally at least five minutes.
- Find a quiet space where you will not be disturbed, use your balanced breathing to bring your into a state of relaxed alertness.
- Take a couple of long breaths out, fully aware of the feel of your breath moving out of your lungs, allowing yourself to sigh audibly, really hearing the sound of the sigh. And set yourself the intention of bringing more compassion to yourself and to others.
- Bring your breathing into balance (see our page on this for more information) where your in breath and out breath are the same amount of time e.g. five seconds in and five seconds out. Just gently bring yourself into the present moment and into your body.
- Gently put your hand on your heart and connect to a general feeling of compassion or loving kindness.
- Now focus on yourself. Connecting with your heart and asking yourself what is a true value you would like e.g.compassion, peace, freedom, or an emotional state you would like to feel e.g. happy, joyous. Listen to yourself and use the word that comes up for you – what would you truly desire right now for yourself? Now say “May I be [place your desired word here e.g. content]”
- Now bring to mind someone for whom you are very grateful, someone that you deeply care about. And breathing deeply and with a focus at heart level, say “May [X person] be healthy well and at peace.”
- Now bring to mind someone who is neutral to you, maybe the guy who makes your coffee, or a neighbour and say “May [X person] be healthy, well and at peace.”
- Then, bring to mind someone who you are less comfortable with, maybe in conflict with and say “May [X person] be healthy, well and at peace.”
- And finally, direct your attention to all living beings and say “May each person and living things be healthy, well and at peace.”
- Just sit for a moment in this beautiful place and really let the feelings sink into your body – into every cell of your being.
This is a great practice to both connect deeply with your heart, and also to deliberately connect with others in a positive way.
There is an old Native American story where an elder Cherokee, a grandfather is teaching his grandson about life. He tells his grandson that “A fight is going on inside me…. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil — he is anger, envy, sorrow, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continues, “The other is good — he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you — and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a minute then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?”
The grandfather quietly replies, “The one you feed.”
Which wold are you choosing to feed today? The one of hate, fear, guilt… or are you going to choose the one of love?