To begin this Mindfulness Exercise on Loving Kindness, please bring kind awareness to
– why you chose this topic
– how your belly, chest, and head each feel when you reflect on this topic
– the emotions that you can associate with these visceral feelings
– the positive or negative impact of any stories you believe in regarding this topic
– the consoling/humbling/inspiring fact that many others are feeling similarly about this topic as you
– how you will feel with increased awareness around this topic
– when you can apply increased mindfulness to this topic in your day-to-day life
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Loving-Kindness Mindfulness Exercise
When we think of practicing mindfulness in our daily lives, a number of concepts and topics usually come to mind. We think about being present in this very moment. We might reflect on the importance of practicing compassion for others. Or, the notion of mindfulness might call to mind various meditative practices, spiritual leaders, or cultural traditions.
Rarely, though, do we think of the concept of love. In our modern world, the idea of love is usually interpreted in its romantic sense. It’s sometimes associated with lust for another person, or for a deep appreciation for a particular person, thing, place, or experience. However, love can be much more than this.
If you’ve ever encountered a book, article, or mindfulness talk related to Buddhism, you may have already been exposed to the idea of loving-kindness. It’s both simple and profound on a conceptual level. When we talk about loving-kindness, we’re referring not to the kinds of love mentioned above, but rather to a love without end: one which all beings deserve, regardless of who they are, what they’ve done, or what they’ve been through. This is the love of a Bodhisattva: a kind of universal compassion for all forms of life, one which allows us to get in touch with the suffering that everyone encounters at some point in this existence.
Loving yourself, loving others
Without practicing self-compassion, it’s impossible to develop loving-kindness for other beings. In this mindfulness exercise, you’ll first need to learn to love yourself. Once you’ve acknowledged that you yourself deserve love and compassion, you can begin to learn how to apply loving-kindness to others, and to all aspects of your life. This involves learning to forgive others: everyone makes mistakes, and we all deserve to be forgiven for them, regardless of the circumstances. You’ll practice forgiving yourself, and forgiving others in turn.