Sometimes when people are beginning to learn lovingkindness meditation they think that lovingkindness is something that’s to be manufactured. And so they make lots of effort to try to generate some emotion, as if they’re trying very hard to wring some emotion from the heart.
And sometimes, if you make a lot of internal effort, you can become somewhat excited and convince yourself that you’re developing lovingkindness. But more often a sense of disappointment and even despondency sets in, because you don’t get the expected result. So this isn’t a very useful approach.
You can’t actually make emotions happen — all you can do is set up the conditions for them to arise and then see what happens. Love can’t be manufactured through meditation. It can’t be squeezed out of our being.
It’s a bit like growing seeds. You can’t make a seed grow. All you can do is provide warmth, water, and soil, and then be patient.
In cultivating feelings of loving kindness we’re encouraging ourselves to wish others well. So how do we set up the conditions for doing this?
The first thing is to become aware of how we actually are feeling just now. This is essential groundwork.
Try this exercise: