Posted next to my front door is a postcard I received from attending a retreat led by Sharon Salzberg. The postcard reads, “Do a simple act of kindness everyday.” I placed it here so that I have the constant reminder to choose kindness, to embody it, to live it. As I have spent these past few years growing kindness within, I have come to understand that practicing kindness, to cultivate it, is a courageous and deliberate intention. One way to cultivate kindness is through meditation, specifically lovingkindness meditation.
A Guided Lovingkindness Meditation (11 minutes)
Taking even just a few moments to sit in stillness and send lovingkindness to ourselves or others alters our neural pathways. Over time every moment or minute of practice builds a momentum that shifts our habitual way of interacting, reacting and responding to our daily experiences. It improves our well-being overall. Lovingkindness practice is a beautiful and tender way to open our hearts so that we can embrace our lives fully and become more resilient in scrambling over the rocks (or boulders) that are on our path.
Lovingkindness is a practice in treating ourselves with kindness, gentleness and acceptance just as we would a close friend. It is a practice that nurtures our capacity to support ourselves when we are in need. Furthermore, it connects us with others in the same way as it nurtures our common humanity. We become more likely to see another with empathy and compassion rather than with judgement and separateness. This becomes particularly clear when we are interacting with or reflecting upon an experience with a person who is difficult or challenging for us, especially one who triggers our defense mechanisms. Lovingkindness is a practice that builds our inner strength, our resiliency. It is a practice that I have found personally transformational.
In an effort to spread and cultivate lovingkindness practice, I began sharing notes of lovingkindness in public places including social media with the #lovingkindnessnotes. I was inspired by a story from Tara Cousineau’s book The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart & Your World. She describes a woman who was receiving cancer treatment and began leaving inspirational post-it notes on the wall in the changing area. While she never knew the impact it had on the other women who came into contact with the note, she and her children (who participated in crafting the notes) were filled with joy. This mother’s small act of kindness in fact was a daily cultivation of compassion, empathy and kindness for her and her children! Crafting my own lovingkindness notes over these couple of months has increased my joy, resiliency and consistency to act compassionately and kindly.
To take my small act of lovingkindness a step further and to support your effort to nurture a loving and kind heart, I have created a deck of lovingkindness notes to be used either as a daily, weekly or as needed inspirational guide. Click here to order a deck.
Also, I have recorded a 5 minutes lovingkindness notes meditation to support your practice using one or more of the cards. You can focus on lovingkindness for yourself, for a loved one/friend, for a difficult person, for a stranger, or for a community. Click here for the meditation. You can begin today by using one of cards from the slideshow below.
Also, go to my guided meditations to find additional meditations. I add new ones periodically.