Kindness Meditation: How to Use Loving Kindness to Change Your Relationship to Emotional Pain by Julie Potiker
Loving kindness meditation invites you to expand your ability to have compassion for yourself and others. It opens the doorway to the possibility of being mindfully calm, clear and loving in an otherwise chaotic world – and it is an especially effective way to reorient yourself to painful emotions. By mindfully taking time to love and accept ourselves – including all our emotions – we give ourselves some breathing room.
The practice of loving kindness is quite simple – it involves mantras that you repeat silently to yourself. You can do this while sitting in quiet meditation, but you can also do it while in traffic, standing in line at the grocery store, taking a walk outside or anytime, anywhere that you find it useful.
When you are struggling with emotional pain try these steps:
1. Acknowledge How You Are Feeling
So often, we try to push aside or squash down painful feelings so they don’t overwhelm us. Instead, use soothing touch by placing your hands anywhere on your body that you find it comforting, such as on your cheek, over your heart or on your shoulders with arms wrapped in a hug. Then give yourself some words of comfort. I might say to myself, “Oh Julie, sweetheart, I know this is really hard right now.”
2. Practice Loving Kindness
By focusing your attention on a word or phrase, you can change your relationship to the pain so that it feels more possible to bear. Loving kindness phrases are great for this. You can tell yourself what you most need to hear right now. For example:
You are doing all you can in this time of suffering.
You are not alone.
You are loved and appreciated.
You are smart and strong and have courage to spare.
Nothing is permanent. These raw, painful feelings will eventually change to something less harsh.
One day, you will find the silver lining in this mess.
You can also say “I” instead of “you” when addressing yourself if that feels more comforting.
3. Keep Returning Your Focus to What Lifts You Up
I say loving kindness phrases to myself all the time. Whenever I feel an emotion coming up that feels bad, my hand automatically goes to my heart, and I wish myself gorgeous things like safety, peace, ease, love and happiness. Even when I’m not upset, I wish these things for myself. Keep returning to what lifts you up. Slowly but surely, you will transform your relationship to emotional pain and begin to heal.
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