Apr 12, 2013
Getting started with lovingkindness (Day 1 of 100 Days of Lovingkindness)
Welcome to Day 1 of 100 Days of Lovingkindness!
So, what’s this 100 Days of Lovingkindness about?
We have a thriving community of practitioners over on Google Plus (do feel free to join us). We discuss our meditation practice and our lives, and we give each other support and encouragement. It’s wonderful. And late last year someone said they’d just meditated for 100 straight days and someone else suggested that we should all commit ourselves to sitting for 100 straight days in the New Year, and that turned more into the idea of establishing a habit of daily sitting over 100 days, and so we did the 100 Day Meditation Challenge together. Many of us sat for 100 straight days, and lot of people, although not sitting quite every day, did a great job of building that habit of daily sitting.
And as the 100 Day Meditation Challenge came to an end, we thought, “What next?”
And what’s next is focusing on developing qualities of lovingkindness, compassion, appreciation, and equanimity over the next 100 days. It’s 100 Days of Lovingkindness.
Want to join us?
I suppose you’ll want to know what it involves?
There are just these few things:
- Do some formal seated lovingkindness meditation every day, for at least five minutes (longer if possible, but five minutes is your emergency fall-back position).
- A day is the time between waking and sleeping, not a calendar day, so if you don’t sit until midnight you haven’t blown it!.
- Make some effort to cultivate or practice lovingkindness in daily life.
- Share what you’re doing with others (here, or on Facebook, or on Google+, which is where the main activity is.
- If you forget to meditate one day, you haven’t “blown it.” The point is to work for one hundred days to being more lovingkindness into our lives, not to “be perfect.” If you fall off the wagon, just get straight back on.
Uh, what’s “lovingkindness”?
Good question. Lovingkindness meditation is a practice in which we contact and strengthen our innate desire for beings, including ourselves, to be happy. Lovingkindness is kindly awareness. When our kindly awareness meets suffering, it becomes compassion, which is the desire that beings, including ourselves, be free from suffering. So lovingkindness and compassion are simply different modes of the same experience, a desire that beings be happy and free from suffering.
Consider the following reflections:
- You want, generally speaking, to be happy. You don’t want, generally speaking, to suffer. (Is this true for you?)
- Happiness is often much harder to find than you think it’s going to be, and suffering is something that you experience more often than you want to. (Is this also true for you?)
Really pause for a moment and check out the truth of those statements in your heart.
Now, having let these thoughts drop into your mind, and having sensed the truth of them in your experience, ask yourself whether there is some part of you that can respond with support and sympathy as you do this difficult thing of being human — as you go about this task of living, hoping for and seeking happiness and finding it elusive, hoping and trying to avoid suffering and finding that it arises all too often.
And then consider that these reflections are true for others as well. All beings, whether you like them or don’t like them, whether you know them or not, are in the same situation as you are. Is there some part of you that can support and cherish the aspirations of other beings as they struggle to find happiness and escape suffering, as they too do this difficult thing of being human? This perspective is the essence of cultivating both lovingkindness and compassion.
So this is a very natural thing, although it may go hugely against some of our conditioning. (“You mean I’m allowed to like myself!”)
OK! How do I start?
We actually have a fairly extensive guide to lovingkindness practice on this site, and you can start with cultivating lovingkindness toward yourself here.
Of, if you want, you can just go straight to this short guided meditation. It was recorded a long time ago, on very poor equipment, but if you can overlook those deficiencies I hope you’ll find it beneficial.
And over the next 99 days, although not necessarily every day, we’ll be sharing various resources, tips, and teachings on various forms of lovingkindness practice. Once again, I hope you’ll join us. Leave a quick comment below if you’re on board…