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.

Before going any further, please take a moment to complete this brief survey to weigh in on what kind of mindfulness meditation instruction you’d like in the New Year. 

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. You can use whatever phrases resonate with you, and feel free to adapt them or create your own. We begin where it’s easiest: with someone for whom it’s easy to feel lovingkindness.
  • Mature compassion is mindful, caring, and wise. Not a doormat. Immature compassion is enabling, without boundaries, etc.

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each person’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” 
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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 (or held in) lovingkindness.
  • May you be safe and protected.
  • May you be strong and healthy.
  • May you live with ease.
  • May you be happy and free.
  • May you be at peace.
  • May you be kind to yourself and others.

Music Video

Here’s the India Arie song I mentioned that has helped me to cultivate compassion for myself and others. When an Inner Critic flare-up occurs, instead of getting frozen in self-judgment and shame, we can say, “I screwed up…and I am light.” And we can let this kind of compassion ripple outward so we can see others in this way, as well: You are light.

 

Homework for This Week and Beyond

  • Try to build up to 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.

Simplified Practice

Please remember that any meditation is better than none! If you don’t have time to meditate on a given day, you might try:

  • Going to sleep listening to a guided meditation
  • Taking a few minutes to imagine yourself in the most beautiful, soothing place
  • Pausing to take three conscious breaths throughout the day
  • Breathing with your sleeping child
  • Stepping outside and feeling the sun on your skin, watching or listening to birds, observing a bee pollinating flowers, watching the clouds drift through the sky, gazing at the stars, being mindful of sounds, etc.
  • Taking time for gratitude by writing down five things you’re grateful for each day and pausing to savor pleasurable experiences. (Here is a blog post I wrote that might be helpful.)
  • Breathing with the Breathe Bubble on Calm.

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. 

Lovingkindness Meditation (12 minutes)
Susan Meyer

 

Guided Mindfulness & Lovingkindness Meditation (25 minutes, meditation begins at 3:25)
Susan Meyer
https://youtu.be/aTRbfXXiSa0

Metta (Lovingkindness) (12 minutes)
Tara Brach
https://www.tarabrach.com/guided-meditation-metta-lovingkindness/

Lovingkindness Meditation (15 minutes)
Sharon Salzberg
https://insighttimer.com/sharonsalzberg/guided-meditations/lovingkindness-meditation

Facing Fear with a Compassionate Heart (talk that includes writing a letter from unconditional love)
Elizabeth Gilbert
https://insighttimer.com/elizabeth_gilbert_writer/guided-meditations/facing-fear-with-a-compassionate-heart

Live Guided Meditations 

I will continue to offer live, guided meditation sessions weekly via Zoom through Schuylerville Public Library. Please join me if you’d like on Tuesdays at 7 PM and Thursdays at 8:30 AM. You can save the links. They will remain the same from week to week.

Thursday evening Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87301609088?pwd=dU0zMko2Z0xnMHZtN2NZS1ZJNTlOQT09

Tuesday morning Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85925866762?pwd=ZEtmWndJb0VBdUduVm1wTHREYzdtUT09 

The library meditation sessions will continue through December 17 and then will resume in the New Year once a week instead of twice. I’m trying to decide whether to continue with the morning or evening sessions (or perhaps alternate?) and value your input.

Loving Wisdom Cards 

I didn’t mention this in class but thought I’d mention here that one of my goals that came to fruition this year was to create a card deck of my inspirational quote images. I call them Loving Wisdom Cards

This is a generous deck consisting of 90 of my original images and insights. It can be used as an intuitive oracle when you seek guidance, or for inspiration anytime. The messages in this card deck were curated around themes of mindfulness, self-compassion, self-worth, healthy boundaries, resilience, and empowerment. It’s like the voice of a wise, best friend who wants you to see and love yourself as they see and love you, and to teach others to treat you accordingly.
 
The words on these cards came directly from my own journey, and I offer them in hopes they will benefit others, as well. If you’re interested in ordering my Loving Wisdom Cards, you can do so through my website or email me. (I also accept Venmo, Paypal, and cash.) If you live locally, I could even deliver them in person. 
 

In Closing

I wish you a fruitful practice! This is important work you are doing. I’m so glad that you participated in this course and hope to see you in January! If you’d like to register for the January course, click HERE.

If you’d like to stay in touch and hear about upcoming classes and guided meditations, be sure to sign up for my mailing list below! And feel free to reach out at any time. I’d love to hear from you.

Please take good care of yourself, and happy holidays! 

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