Cultivating Loving Kindness

I’m going to talk about the ‘L’ word. Which let’s face it can be just as confronting for some people as if I was going to start talking about the ‘G’ word, and by ‘G’ word I mean ‘God’.

‘Love’ like the word ‘God’ has the power to evoke many different thoughts and feelings in each of us. When we hear the word ‘Love’ all of us get a different thought, image, person or feeling that comes into our minds or our hearts.

Some of us may think of our families first. Some of us may think of our friends. And for some of us the word ‘Love’ will bring to mind that one special person with whom we share romantic love, or perhaps that one special person who perhaps we’ve loved and lost.

Even though at Valentines Day love is accompanied by big red hearts and boxes of chocolates, the idea of love does not always evoke a soft gooey feeling in that place we call our heart. In fact sometimes it can evoke pain, fear, grief.

Many of us at some stage in our lives have either ourselves said or heard a friend or family member say “That’s it! I’m done with Love!” and then watch the process of that person try and eliminate love from their lives. Most end up failing at it, or if there is some success at the elimination of love they continue to be miserable anyway.

I believe that this is because elimination of love in our lives goes against our very nature. Because Love & Connection is the greatest desire of human beings whether we are aware of that in ourselves or not. And one of our greatest purposes is to simply LOVE. When we have a love-filled life we thrive.

The really interesting thing is, when we hear the word love, rarely very rarely do our thoughts turn to ourselves. Did yours?

You know there’s that saying “LOVE STARTS WITH YOU”.

And we’ve all heard or read, that in order to fully love and accept love from another person, we must first fully love and accept ourselves as we are. And this is totally true …. but also really hard at times.

But love starting with you relates to something more than loving oneself …

If you want your life to be full of Love, YOU have to create it. No more waiting for someone else to bring it along for you. The decision must be yours. You have to make the choice to align yourself with love.

In Yogic & Buddhist writtings we don’t often see the word ‘Love’. In these philosophies what is referred to is ‘Metta’ or ‘Maitri’, both of which roughly translate to mean ‘Loving Kindness’. The definition of which is – a warm hearted feeling, not gooey or sentimental & not clingy or possesive. It is a gentle, loyal acceptance with a deep sense of appreciation or regard.

Loving Kindness is one of the four limitless qualities of the heart. Which means we can use it/practise it as much as we want and it cant be diminished. In fact quite the opposite, the more we practise it the more available it becomes to us.

As with all the qualities of the heart we can choose to cultivate Loving Kindness. If we cultivate loving kindness first, then all the other heart qualities will thrive. If love thrives, the heart thrives and if our heart thrives we & our lives will start to blossom.

The best way to cultivate Love is to actively/conciously practise it. To be willing, to open ourselves up, quite literally, to all the experiences that love can bring to our lives.

Below you’ll find a simple guideline to practising Loving Kindness using a ‘Loving Kindess Meditation’. This can be practised as many times and you want. The more you practise it, the more available Loving Kindness with be in your life.

The ‘Loving Kindness Meditation’ also brings in into play the three other limitless qualities of the heart. Which are;

COMPASSION – for those who are suffering

JOY – taking in the simple pleasures of life

EQUINIMITY – the ability to stay connected to others without feelings of possesiveness orill feeling (sometimes referred to as indifference

As mentioned before LOVE STARTS WITH YOU, so we first practise with ourselves. Finding a comfortable meditation posture, turn your awareness to yourself. Sometimes if easiest way to do this is to connect with your breath. As you sit repeat mentally to yourself:

“May I be happy”

“May I be peaceful”

“May I be safe from harm”

“May I enjoy happiness and the root of happiness”

“May I experience ease and well-being in body, mind & spirit”

Let those blessings wash over you for several moments. And then continue, bringing into mind someone who is dearly beloved to you, someone who it is easy to have feeling of love for, and mentally repeat to them:

“May you be happy”

“May you be peaceful”

“May you be safe from harm”

“May you enjoy happiness and the root of happiness”

“May you experience ease and well-being in body, mind & spirit”

Next we bring to mind someone who is quite neutral to us. Sometimes this is the hardest person to think of. I often suggest picking someone who works in a local shop, your bus driver, or someone you see walking down your street often. Bring them into mind and mentally repeat to them:

“May you be happy”

“May you be peaceful”

“May you be safe from harm”

“May you enjoy happiness and the root of happiness”

“May you experience ease and well-being in body, mind & spirit”

Lastly we bring into mind someone who perhaps we have ‘ill-feeling’ towards. Perhaps someone we don’t see eye to eye with, someone who makes us feel uncomfortable or doubtful or someone who has hurt us in the past. Bring them into mind and with an understanding of the rights & needs of ALL human beings, mentally repeat to them:

“May you be happy”

“May you be peaceful”

“May you be safe from harm”

“May you enjoy happiness and the root of happiness”

“May you experience ease and well-being in body, mind & spirit”

Once you finish, simply take note of the feelings in your body. Notice if there are any feelings of lightness. Any warmth in the heart-space. And remember that this practise is always available to you.



Categories: Contemplate