Lovingkindness Class Follow-Up

Thanks for showing up for class!

In this weekly follow-up, I’m again offering many ways for you to work with the content that was presented in class. And I want to reiterate: Please don’t feel pressured to do it all. Do what feels right to you. Trying to meditate daily might be enough! Some days, having the intention is even enough. But if you want more, I’m offering options to take it deeper.

Main Ideas

It’s not only important that you pay attention to the present moment, but also how you pay attention. Lovingkindness makes it possible to come back again and again with kindness to the life that is right here, both on and off the meditation cushion.

It’s ultimately about not throwing anyone or anything out of your heart. And that doesn’t mean you don’t have healthy boundaries because lovingkindness for yourself is an essential part of the practice. With practice, you can learn to relate even to difficult people with a wise, awakened heart instead of with aversion or hostility. (But this is advanced practice and takes time!)

In lovingkindness practice, we send wishes of lovingkindness to others and to ourselves, beginning where it’s easiest: with someone for whom it’s easy to feel lovingkindness.

Steps for Lovingkindness Practice:

  • Set an intention of good will
  • Direct wishes of lovingkindness
  • Actively engage in offering and receiving care
  • Progression (over time)
    1. Benefactor: someone who makes you smile and brings up feelings of loving (i.e. grandparent, pet, teacher, child, friend)
    2. Self
    3. Neutral person
    4. Difficult person
    5. All beings

Examples of Lovingkindness Phrases

  • May you be filled with lovingkindness.
  • May you be safe and protected.
  • May you be well and strong.
  • May you be peaceful and at ease.
  • May you be happy.

This Week’s Homework

  • Try to build up to 15-20 minutes/day (and remember that any practice is better than none).
  • Experiment with one or more of the new guided meditations (below).
  • Continue working with any of the previous guided meditations that work for you.
  • Alternate between awareness and heart practices as you see fit.
  • Notice opportunities for bringing yourself back to awareness of the here-and-now and practicing lovingkindness in daily life.
  • Remember your intention!
  • Write a Letter from Unconditional Love
    1. What are the words you most long to hear someone say to you?
    2. Imagine what the most compassionate, loving, gentle person would say to you.
    3. Say it to yourself on paper.
    4. Shower yourself with tenderness and mercy.

Questions to Reflect on

  • How might current events (news, social media, etc.) create a sense of the “Bad Other” – people who are hard to include in your circle of lovingkindness? Who is your Bad Other?
  • Can you get a sense of what is below the anger, blame, etc. you feel toward the Bad Other? Perhaps some kind of caring (for fairness, social justice, living in a compassionate world, etc.)? Can you touch the caring that is beneath it all?
  • Review your relationships with people in your closest circle of family and friends. Where are you carrying resentment or blame?
  • With each person who came to mind, ask yourself, “If I had to let go of this story of ‘wrongness,’ what difficult emotion would I have to feel?”
  • What are the words you most long to hear someone say to you? (These words can be incorporated into your lovingkindness practice.)

Guided Meditations 

Choose whatever meditations resonate most. I recorded and uploaded to my website several guided practices for this course, some of which are listed below. (Click on the link, and scroll to the bottom of the webpage to see them.)

Lovingkindness Meditation (12 minutes)
Susan Meyer

Guided Mindfulness & Lovingkindness Meditation (25 minutes, meditation begins at 3:25)
Susan Meyer

Metta (Lovingkindness) (12 minutes)
Tara Brach

Lovingkindness Meditation (15 minutes)
Sharon Salzberg

Facing Fear with a Compassionate Heart (talk that includes writing a letter from unconditional love)
Elizabeth Gilbert

May your practice be fruitful this week! This is important work you are doing. I look forward to seeing you in the next class. Until then, please feel free to email me with any questions you may have.

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