These two words, Loving Kindness, put together can create a beautiful synergy, different from when these words are used separately. Loving Kindness is a traditional Buddhist concept; it implies acting with compassion towards all sentient beings, with an awareness and appreciation of the natural world. To choose to live your life from this perspective is easy; to actually do it, day in and day out, can be quite a challenge.
When my children were growing up and I did not behave my best as a parent, I would remind myself that I wanted to be loving and kind and I wanted to behave from a loving kindness perspective. I would say to my children: “Let’s rewind this situation to where things went south, and this is what I would like to have said/done with loving kindness.” This completely changed the relationship struggle we were facing at that moment. I took ownership for my own, less than desirable behavior without using external circumstances as excuses. I felt good about that. I noticed my children opened up to hear me out, and what came next was surprising. They also took ownership for what they could have done better or different. It became a win-win for the relationship. The struggle became an opportunity to exchange loving kindness.
How do you practice loving kindness? In Buddhism there is a meditation called Loving Kindness, or “Metta Meditation” and it invites you to repeat the following sentences silently with the intention of loving kindness being sent to yourself first: “May I be safe, may I be healthy, may I live in peace, may I live with ease”. Then you repeat it extending it to someone you love with the intention of loving kindness being sent to that being: “May you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live in peace, may you live with ease”. Then you repeat the same sentence for someone who you feel neutral about. Next you repeat the same loving kindness intention toward someone who you are struggling with, and the last round is projected to all sentient beings, including everyone. There are apps and videos everywhere that can provide guidance on how to do it. However, loving kindness is not just a meditation; it can be a way of life. You can practice it every day, every moment, with everyone, to nurture compassion, kindness, goodwill and love for oneself and others. You can begin the practice by making a conscious choice every day to do it for yourself, for those who you love and for the benefit of humanity.
Loving kindness is a choice, and it requires us to be aware of our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. Regular meditation enhances our awareness and gently invites us to notice our behaviors and responses and allows us to make the choice to honor loving kindness.
“May you be safe, may you be healthy, may you live in peace, may you live with ease.”
Veronica Correa, LCSW-C, is a licensed clinical social worker, certified hypnotherapist and life coach. To learn more about her work, visit www.thepersonalwellnesscenter.com or call 410-742- 6016.