Loving Kindness for Geetha
Another Mindfulness Works Introduction to Mindfulness and Meditation completed at Mt Eden Memorial Hall, (inner Auckland suburb) last night.
What a delight it was to deliver this course - as it is every time for Mindfulness Works! Truly, the course attracts open, willing, engaged people. People who want to have skills to work with their life experiences. Its a privilege to deliver that work and have it so well received.
This one (Blog) is for Geetha!
Loving Kindness (or Metta) is a practice of mindful meditation where by our concentration is applied to compassionate wishes of well-being for ourselves and others.
I usually offer a Loving Kindness meditation in the Intro because I don’t feel compassion can be separated from the practice of ‘observing’. How can we be that vulnerable without a kind baseline practice to rest our mindful observations in?
Offering the meditation can be interesting however. People are new to mindfulness and some find it difficult to contemplate sending loving thoughts outward; especially if invited to call to mind ‘someone with whom I really struggle to like’.
Last night was a delight to facilitate because there was real engagement with the ‘outcomes’ of practicing loving kindness towards such people/relationships).
I found myself doing something I have never done before now in a workshop: asking ‘Geetha’ to accept something as my truth.
“Can you tell us if this meditation actually changes anything in relationship?”
To which I responded: “I can only tell you my truth. And that is: every single time!”
We have some amazingly informed teachers around the virtues and outcomes of Loving Kindness and Compassion practices. Paul Gilbert, Kristin Neff, Chris Germer, and my favourite, Sharon Salzberg (apologies for lack of letters after names…) Then there is the sublime teachings of Daniel Siegel, an eloquent, brilliant mind, whose outline of the benefits of compassion make sense where science is yet to define such. I’ve spent so many hours listening to, and learning from, these academics and spiritual teachers (apologies to the many I haven’t mentions: Tara Brach for one) that I would love to share here. But what is so much more worthwhile for you Geetha (and any other readers) might be for me to offer my humble opinion of why it is compassion based practice creates love in my heart for people I’ve struggled with:
By directing my loving attention to those I ‘struggle to like’ I feel as if I gain a heart centred view of the person not the issue. My head is full of great ways to dwell on the problem we have between us. What I could have said… what they said… what more could have been done… what less should have been done… The ‘Default Network’ of my mind feeds on all that content. Better suited, to the task of healing my experience with someone I have crossed swords with, is my heart. That knows the pain the mind can not name. With liberty from my mind’s perspective of the ‘story’, I can trust in the heart to create space. Afterall, even the most misguided individual, whose deeds are really harmful, somewhere, deep down, does what they do, in the hopes of gaining Safety, Satisfaction or Connection. I know for sure, that if they were ‘well’, ‘peaceful’, ‘kind to themselves’, and ‘accept themselves, exactly as they are’, my issue would be the least of importance in their, or my world.
Geetha asked, “Do you use their name? Have a vision of the person in your mind?”
What I find is there isn’t a defined form of the person. The common sense of humanity is a source that is omnipresent and I guess by the time I have spent a good duration of my practice focusing on Lovingness, the person I draw into my practice is less - named and more sensed. But Geetha, as we discussed, do what comes naturally to you. Whats important here is, that you are doing it! Reaching within and opening up to a new way of engaging with conflict and difficulty.
Of course this post, just as the tone of my delivery went last night, isn’t scientific or definitive. Siegel would explain so fluidly, how the mind is a complex system (much like a cloud!) and that the return to equanimity is via the compassion for that system’s complexities. I can read that wise work endlessly but never actually gain an insight - unless I practice what I read.
And so, like Mindfulness itself (the observing quality and first step in Awakening) Compassion must be a verb.
Try it - ha, DO it, and see for yourself. Love heals.