Apr 12, 2013
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 …
Mar 16, 2013
This week one of my students described how she tends to talk to herself in a very harsh tone of voice — much harsher than she’d ever use with other people. And that’s a very common experience. In our own minds we often describe ourself as “an idiot,” tell ourselves that our actions were “stupid,” or limit ourselves by telling cruel stories about how people don’t like us and how we’ll never be good at the things we do.
We tend not to talk this way to others, or at least to a much lesser extent. Of course if we do there tends to be a backlash. We cause hurt, anger, …
Feb 02, 2013
Sometimes people have problems with the final stage of lovingkindness practice — developing goodwill for all beings. Because how can you possibly relate to all beings! It’s impossible!
I think the language of “all beings” can be misleading. We can’t literally have metta for all beings because we don’t know who they are, or where they are, or even if they are!
The final stage is called, in the commentaries, “breaking the bounds” and I see it as breaking the bounds of one-to-one relationships. The middle three stages all include a one-to-one relationship with someone: a friend, a neutral person, and someone you have difficulty with. A visual comparison …
Jan 11, 2013
It astonishes me how much time I spend making judgements about people, but the truly surprising thing is that although it makes me feel bad, I keep doing it. And it leads to unfortunate interactions with people which ends up causing them suffering too.
One thing that protects us against this kind of self-imposed suffering is lovingkindness (metta) practice. Lovingkindness is an important complement to mindfulness practice.
To cultivate metta we can do something as simple as repeat to ourselves, “May you be well; may you be happy” as we see others. We can do this while walking or driving, for example.
We can take a more reflective approach …
Rick Hanson PhD
Dec 28, 2012
Friendliness is a down-to-earth approach to others that is welcoming and positive.
Think about a time when someone was friendly to you – maybe drawing you into a gathering, saying hello on the sidewalk, or smiling from across the room. How did that make you feel? Probably more included, comfortable, and at ease; safer; more open and warm-hearted.
When you are friendly to others, you offer them these same benefits. Plus you get rewarded yourself. Being friendly feels confident and happy, with a positive take on other people, moving toward the world instead of backing away from it. And it encourages others to be less guarded or …
Nov 19, 2012
Recently I received a few questions about the relationship between lovingkindness and “toughness.”
1. When practicing lovingkindness, how do you respond if people around you warm to you, but misconstrue your kindness and friendliness, and then become disappointed that you don’t want a “relationship” with them?
Well, that’s an interesting question. I suppose the short answer is “kindly.”
It’s great if people are noticing you becoming friendlier and are responding. But these things can be complicated, especially when people have strong emotional needs (because they’re lonely, for example) or where friendliness is being interpreted as an overture to romantic involvement.
And sometimes we may need to look at the signals we’re …
Jun 25, 2012
There’s a verse in an ancient Buddhist text that says something to the effect that we all want to be happy, and yet we destroy happiness as if it was an enemy, and we all want to avoid suffering, yet run towards it as if it were a dear friend.
This really resonates with my experience, and recently I’ve been incorporating a reflection based on this into my lovingkindness practice.
I start with myself. I recollect that I do in fact want to be happy and acknowledge how difficult it can be at times to experience joy and wellbeing. And then I ask whether some part of me is prepared …
Nov 29, 2011
Right at the very beginning of my meditation practice I was introduced to both mindfulness of breathing and the development of lovingkindness meditation. It was explained to me that both of these practices were equally important, that they were complementary, and that alternating these practices prevented imbalance in our approach. It was stressed, in fact, that sometimes lovingkindness practice is more important than mindfulness practice — especially for people who have a tendency toward being angry or over-critical.
I’ve never had cause to doubt any of that advice.
There are many meditators, however, who only practice mindfulness meditation, and often lovingkindness practice is seen as second-best. Generally …
Sep 22, 2011
I remember feeling very frustrated – and frankly a little baffled – when I was first learning the metta bhavana practice. Especially around the fourth stage, the difficult person. How was I supposed to feel warmth and affection for somebody I admitted not getting along with?
It was a tall order, and the whole idea left me feeling inadequate. I often sat there wondering what the heck metta was supposed to feel like, because I just didn’t get it. I figured there must be something wrong with me. I’m wondering if you’ve ever found yourself in a similar place.
Nov 30, 2010
Sharon Salzberg has an excellent reputation for creating wonderful dharma books, but when I first saw the title, The Force of Kindness, I thought the subject matter was a little… soft. How much can be said about kindness?
Then, too, the book itself is diminutive in size — a standard Sounds True publication of less than a hundred pages, with a guided meditation CD included.
But that was exactly what Sharon addressed — the incorrect impression that kindness itself …