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.

But before going any further, please take a moment to complete this course evaluation. And thank you so much for doing so!

Create your own user feedback survey

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.

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. (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
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

I wish you a fruitful practice! This is important work you are doing. I’m so glad that you participated in this course!

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! 

Recent Journaling

What Do You See?

What Do You See?

This summer, the river that runs by my front door has been my refuge. On the river, everything is so normal and predictable. It could be any summer. The sun and moon rise and set on schedule and travel the path they always do, undistracted by human drama. Birds sing....

read more
When the Heart Breaks Open

When the Heart Breaks Open

There's a spot on the Hudson River I paddle to almost every day. It's my quiet place of solitude. It's just large enough to pull my kayak onto and do some walking meditation, back and forth for 15 to 20 paces. This is a new spot for me. Normally, I wouldn't linger in...

read more

Facebook Feed

Let's Stay Together!

Join my mailing list to receive the latest articles, updates, and offerings. Don't worry: I won't spam you or share your info with anyone!

You have Successfully Subscribed!