"Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world... Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis."
~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Niceness is Not Love
One way to contact the sacred is to connect to the love in your heart. Loving-kindness is a Buddhist spiritual tradition that invokes friendliness and love - which can grow with daily practice.
Practicing loving-kindness is an antidote to selfishness, anger and fear. Yet, one of the biggest mistakes you could make in this practice is to pressure yourself to always be nice. Niceness often comes from a concern about appearances, and trying to belong in a group.
Loving-kindness is concerned with the genuine happiness of others. And so, depending upon the situation, it is not always appropriate to be "nice." If a person in your life is behaving badly it is not appropriate to enable their destructive behaviour.
Sometimes, in the best interest of another's growth, a difficult person will need to be told things they do not want to hear, and be shown that what they are doing is not okay.
When it is not possible to reason with someone who is mired in ego dysfunction, you can practice loving-kindness internally in the meditation process below. This practice can help relieve guilt, worry, fear, anger and sadness.
Note: There is no need to initially feel loving or kind during this practice. Meditate upon your intention to experience more love, however weak or strong it may presently be. In this loving-kindness practice, you will be watering the seeds of your good intentions.
Loving-kindness is first practiced towards yourself, since you cannot love others without loving yourself first. Gently close your eyes and begin with a few deep breaths. Check in with yourself physically, emotionally, mentally to see how you need to love yourself.
In your loving-kindness meditation, choose specific words and phrases that evoke a "boundless warm-hearted feeling" for yourself. Sitting quietly, repeat, slowly and steadily, the following or similar phrases that feel right for you:
Repeat: May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful. May I protected from inner and outer harm.
Loving Someone You Enjoy
Consider a person in your life who is easy to care about. This could be your partner, a good friend or perhaps an animal. Imagine them sitting in front of you, looking into your eyes.
Repeat: May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful. May you be protected from inner and outer harm.
While you say these phrases, sink into the kind intentions they express. If feelings of warmth, friendliness, or love arises in your body or mind, connect to them, and watch them grow as you repeat the phrases.
Loving Someone You Don't Enjoy
As you continue this meditation, bring to mind a family member, a friend, a neighbour, an acquaintance or a stranger that you are having difficulties with.
Repeat: You can either use the same phrases as above, repeating them again and again, or make up phrases that better represent the loving-kindness you want to feel toward a person that you are having difficulty with.
Sometimes during a loving-kindness meditation, opposite feelings to love will arise such as anger, grief, or sadness. This can be a sign that your heart is softening and clearing the way for more love to flow. Direct loving-kindness towards your feelings of anger, grief, or sadness when it arises.
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