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Loving-kindness: True love for self and others

Lovingkindness or loving-kindness is not a new word. It’s a catchphrase we have encountered many times in our mindfulness practice. Loving-kindness is all about the cultivation of loving feelings for people, including ourselves. It has to do with seeing everybody as one and setting aside ideas of separation or disconnection. Here we look at everyone with compassion just as we push back our biases, labels, and judgments.

It was written that the Buddha taught the loving-kindness meditation to a group of fearful monks as he ordered them to return into the forest to send loving-kindness to the spirits that were initially inhospitable to them. The spirits eventually became friendly in response to the meditation and the monks remained for a long time in the forest, in harmony with the spirits.

Like the monks in the forest, loving-kindness meditation is one good way to greet all living beings with benevolence and compassion. For the meditator himself or herself, benefits include increased happiness, acceptance, peace, and generally more love in one’s life!

One begins by offering loving-kindness phrases to oneself, and then to someone we like or love, and then to a friend, then a “neutral” person, to someone we don’t like so much, and finally, to all beings. Some examples of the phrases that we can offer ourselves and others include:

May I/you be strong/healthy.

May I/you be safe.

May I/you live long.

May I/you be happy/peaceful.

May I/you be free from suffering.

And so on…

The power of our loving-kindness meditation lies in our ability to really connect with each phrase. Relax into the feelings for a few seconds before extending the positive sensations to other people.

Ideally, we make a commitment to sit for our loving-kindness meditation every day. We stick to our practice until such time that it becomes natural for us to be loving and kind to all beings. And we remain true to our practice until we are able to melt all of our fears, anger, and selfishness.

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