Explore the felt sense of loving-kindness through acts of kindness to a beloved, to a neutral person, to someone with whom we have difficulty, and to the world at large.
- Settle in. Allow the breath to slow and your attention to arrive in the present.
- Allow to emerge and write in your journal the name of four beings:
- A beloved being. This should be an uncomplicated relationship with someone whom you find it simple to evoke a sense of loving-kindness.
- A neutral being. This could be someone you don’t know; a stranger or distant acquaintance.
- A being who you may find difficult to love or against whom you hold a negative judgement (someone with whom you are unresolved, or even a stranger, like a politician, etc.).
- A universal entity: a community, nature, the universe
Then, with hand on heart as a reminder…
- Beginning with your beloved being, imagine the unique gifts and strengths that lie within this being. Like in every human life, there are wonderful moments of strength, courage, humor, creativity, generosity, and tenderness within this person.
- Recognize that JUST LIKE YOU, this person wishes to be nurtured, loved, and to grow into his or her full potential.
- Allow yourself to feel how much you want this person to be nurtured, to be able to grow into his or her full potential. How much you wish that this person would stay well, safe from harm, peaceful, and happy. How much you naturally want to bring forth and celebrate what is beautiful in this person.
- IF you are feeling a sense of loving-kindness, what would be the most natural expression of it? Is there is an ACTION that naturally emerges to be performed? What would honor them? What would cherish them? And what feels within your capacity to offer? Take a few moments to write down that action(s).
Some ideas of kind actions you might “try on” if none come to mind naturally…
- If this person lives near you or with you, what tiny act of kindness can you bring to their day? Pour them a cup of tea just the way they like it? Do the dishes, even if it’s their turn? Drop off an anonymous bundle of flowers from the yard? Leave them a loving phone message?
- Craft and snail-mail a hand-written letter to this person directly expressing your wishes for him or her.
- Send along a song (online via YouTube or a playlist on Spotify) or a simple gift that expresses these wishes. Personalized care packages can be fun to compile and to receive.
- Express an unexpected compliment or gratitude to your person.
- Here are more ideas for simple acts of kindness, such as taking the middle seat on the airplane or picking up groceries for a neighbor…
Repeat the process above for the neutral being the difficult being, and the universal being.
If you saw each being’s potential, and a natural wish arose to cherish and honor this person, know that you are now experiencing is your innate capacity for loving-kindness. And this capacity is there in you, always.
If you are finding it difficult to arrive at these feelings of loving-kindness for a particular person or being, it might help to bring to mind the idea: “Just like me.”
This person wishes to be loved … just like me. This person makes mistakes and wishes they didn’t … just like me. This person struggles in her life … just like me. This person didn’t receive the love she yearned for as a child… just like me.
You might be experiencing loving-kindness, and you might not. Take a few moments to let yourself feel what you are feeling and be who you are. Can you give space for whatever arises? Make a note in your journal of what you noticed with all three people.
If you are inspired to follow through with your expressive acts of kindness, please do so.
For further reflection:
The feeling of loving-kindness is not conditional or a result of attachment. If you expressed kindness, and it was reciprocated or received generously, how was that for you? What if it was NOT reciprocated or even rejected outright? How did that feel for you, and were you able to treat yourself with tenderness or humor? Make a few notes in your journal about these outcomes.