I am at the very beginning of learning about lovingkindness. My meditations so far have been mostly breath-focused, mindful breathing, as I think (and so the books tell me) that cultivating that ability to focus on a single thing is a critical component to all meditation. And if there’s one thing I need to learn, it is how to steady my mind, my very active, flexible, overthinking, mind.
I have started to work in a little metta, which is basically lovingkindness. According to the Wildmind website,
The Metta Bhavana is a meditation for developing lovingkindness. “Bhavana” means “cultivation” or “development,” and “Metta” is a word that means “love,” “friendliness,” or “lovingkindness.” So this is a meditation practice where we actively cultivate some very positive emotional states towards others, as well as to ourselves. This meditation practice helps us to bring more harmony into our relationships with others, so that we experience less conflicts, resolve existing difficulties, and deepen our connections with people we already get on with. This meditation helps us to overcome anger, resentment, and hurt. It helps us to empathize more, and to be more considerate, kind, and forgiving. We can also learn to appreciate others more, concentrating more on their positive qualities and less on their faults. We learn to be more patient.
It is important to cultivate metta towards yourself, and expand outwards. Now this is a bit difficult for someone like me who was raised in a culture that tends to see any such emphasis on “self” as suspect, a road towards narcissism. I was socialized to understand that self-criticism is a good thing, otherwise people would think you’re “above” them, a snob, a bitch.
But on the other hand, how can you be truly kind to others if you cannot grant yourself the same kindness?
So when I meditate, I say these words in my mind, and notice the sensations evoked by them:
May I be well. May I be happy. May I be free from suffering.
It helps. I do feel less angry, resentful, and hurt. I am more able to see the patterns of others behaviors and predict them, so that I do not feel personally injured when they lash out at me, understanding that their behavior comes from a place of deep pain and suffering for them.
Not that I’m good at that yet, but it’s a start.
pic credit: http://38.media.tumblr.com/aeac828eef1e19ffa2495b63c5786640/tumblr_n08n432CAL1qirutbo1_400.jpg