There’s a lot of confidence involved in lovingkindness, especially with lovingkindness toward oneself (self-metta), and this confidence is reflected in the body. When we’re feeling loving toward ourselves or others we’re upright, the chest is open — the heart is open — and we’re relaxed. There’s a feeling of softness, but also of stength. Metta is definitely not a weak or passive state. It involves a confident stance.
When we lack confidence, we often slump. The shoulders roll forwards. The chest collapses so that we can’t breathe well. The heart is closed. We look down, limiting our horizons both literally and figuratively. We become inward turned, and we ruminate in a way that makes us … Read more »
A lot of people have trouble feeling lovingkindness for themselves. They’ve been brought up, or have learned, to think of themselves as unworthy of love, or for some reason think it’s wrong to have kind feelings toward themselves.
One way to get round this is to imagine that you’re a wiser, kinder, more compassionate version of yourself — you as you might be after another ten, or fifteen, or twenty years of practice. And you’re thinking of the present day you, with kindness and with a forgiving and understanding appreciation of the conditioning that he or she is struggling with. Perhaps there’s a feeling of tenderness, as you might have when thinking of yourself as … Read more »
For today’s adventure in 100 Days of Lovingkindness I’m going to share a way of relating that I call “loving gaze.” This is borrowed from Jan Chozen Bays, who writes in How to Train a Wild Elephant of the practice of “Loving Eyes.”
In her book she says:
We know how to use loving eyes when we are falling in love, when we see a new baby or a cute animal. Why do we not use loving eyes more often?
So what we can do is to recall, or even just imagine, the experience of looking with loving eyes. You can recall (or imagine) looking at a beloved child, or a lover, or even a … Read more »
Today, as part of 100 Days of Lovingkindness, where we focus on the development of basic kindness and compassion, we’ll continue with the practice of self-metta.
I’m suggesting a simple practice today to help you bring a more kindly attitude into your daily life.
It’s simply this: be aware of your heart.
I’m not talking about noticing your heart beating, but about bringing awareness to the central part of your chest, and coming back to that over and over again during the day.
This area of the body is very important in terms of emotion, which is why “emotion” and “the heart” are virtually synonymous. And even more crucially, “love” and “the heart” are … Read more »
In one of the Buddha’s teachings on purifying the mind, he said that the basic attitude we should be cultivating can be summed up in the thought:
‘May these beings be free from animosity, free from oppression, free from trouble, and may they look after themselves with ease.’
Traditionally this kindly and loving attitude starts with how we relate to ourselves. If we carry around a harsh attitude inside ourselves, in the way we talk to ourselves internally, then it’s harder for us to have kindness for others.
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 to root for my own … Read more »
Someone on Facebook just introduced me to this very moving clip from Luc Besson’s 2005 film, Angel-A, about an angel, played by Danish actress Rie Rasmussen, who intervenes to rescue, André (played by Jamel Debbouze), a self-loathing scam artist on the verge of killing himself.
This makes me long for the days when I used to live around the corner from the Glasgow Film Theatre, where I enjoyed many fine foreign movies…
Most people know their less than wonderful qualities, such as too much ambition (or too little), a weakness for wine or cookies, something of a temper, or an annoying tendency to rattle on about pet interests. We usually know when we make mistakes, get the facts wrong, could be more skillful, or deserve to feel remorseful.
Some people err on the side of denying or defending these faults ( a word I use broadly here). But most people go to the other extreme, repeatedly criticizing themselves in the foreground of awareness, or having a background sense of guilt, unworthiness, and low confidence.
It’s one thing to call yourself to task for a fault, try to … Read more »