Practicing Self Acceptance and Kindness towards Ourselves is a Radical Step

'Loving Kindness is not a sentimental feeling that sugar coats how we really feel'

I've broken down caring into the groups Caring for Ourselves and Caring for Others but actually they are not two different things. The more we can extend kindness, acceptance and understanding towards ourselves and connect with our own good heart and inherent intelligence, the greater is our capacity to stay present for others. A simple truth? Yes. Easy to apply? No. 

 

 

 

What is Loving Kindness 

The practice of loving-kindness connects us to the source of love we have within us and helps us discover the confidence and courage we need to keep caring. Angela, who works with seriously ill children and a graduate Certificate Program writes, 

"My meditation and extending loving-kindness helped me to gently befriend myself … I was astounded when I realized that being present is actually a skill that I can learn and practice. I’m learning to show up in ... extremely painful situations because I’m more in touch with myself.”

 

 

What Loving Kindness is not

 

 

 

 

Loving-kindness can be misunderstood to be a sentimental feeling that sugar coats how we really feel. In fact, quite the opposite is true. We are not forcing or pretending to feel differently, but train our mind to hold whatever comes up such as anger, frustration, boredom or resentment with the same loving attitude and sense of equanimity. All can be there, we just do not react to it. 

Loving-kindness helps us to develop a healthy sense of self and gently works with our limitations without letting them define us. So, where do we begin?  We begin by practicing loving-kindness for ourselves first. Only then do we extend it further to gradually include others, loved ones, friends, strangers and even those we have difficulty with, slowly bringing the same feeling of loving-kindness to all.

 

The vision of the practice is to cultivate loving-kindness for every being. We repeat the phrases 

"May you be happy, may you be well" 

silently to ourselves to cultivate this feeling of warmth and closeness.

 

Listen to the guided meditation on preparing the ground for Loving-kindness 
Meditation practice is the foundation for the training in loving-kindness we learn to make friends with ourselves, be less judgemental, and so more open and kind. We become less distracted and more stable. Things we need in order to develop our compassion further. You'll discover that the practice of Loving-Kindness can actually help you deepen and stabilize your meditation.

Focus for the week - Loving Kindness for oneself

At the end of your daily meditation, practice loving kindness for yourself for five or ten minutes, using the recorded guided practice. Don’t worry if you don't go over all the elements of the daily practice every time. It is enough to slowly and quietly repeat the phrases “May I be happy, may I be well.” The practice is led by Christine Longaker.
 

Integration - Loving-Kindness on the spot

You can also use these phrases informally during the day.
1.      Notice whether you tend to be harsh or unduly critical of yourself, or any other attitudes that you could address by practicing loving kindness for yourself. Experiment with using the phrases: “May I be happy, may I be well.”
2.      Recite the phrases as you go about your day, while walking down the corridor, sitting at a staff meeting, or before seeing a client.                                                                                                            
3.      Use the phrases when you need them most. Be creative with phrases, for example:       "May this experience help me to be kind.", "May I be free of expectations.", or "May I accept my limitations with a kind heart."
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