Cultivating Loving Kindness Through Meditation
Accessing stillness during meditation in its essence is quite simple. If you’re using mindfulness as the technique, you concentrate on a single focus point to gradually slow down your thoughts naturally, and then eventually let the focus on that single point go altogether, and find a space of peace and blissful stillness beyond thought.
However, in practice, mindfulness is a process of repetition coming back to the point of focus over and over when we are distracted. This can become frustrating and feel like an effort if you do not approach the practice with an attitude of loving kindness. So it is still a beneficial thing to spend 10, 20 or even 30 minutes a day dedicated to meditation and mindful awareness practice, however if you are critical of your attempts and supposed failures to access that stillness and peace, then you are missing an element to your practice that might help you through these obstacles.
Meditation is a wonderful tool for cultivating kindness. Kindness not only towards others, but towards yourself. While you might find you are experiencing many benefits to your regular self care regime, it can really enhance your practice if you are also allowing space to accept whatever it brought up during meditation with an attitude of loving kindness.
SELF-VALIDATING YOUR EMOTIONS IS A STEP TOWARDS HEALING.
Spending time in meditation is a beautiful gift you are giving yourself, a time of self nurturing that small child within that does experience raw emotions acutely. To deny yourself time to notice these feelings, you are effectively ignoring them without really accepting them. We are taught from a young age to stop crying and chin up, pop a bandaid on a wound or we are distracted with a comforting story or song or a “shhhh” from well meaning adults. All those little tactics to help you get over your pain and discomfort so that you dont make too much of a scene and overreact. We are generally uncomfortable watching another person in emotional distress because we know that it is not a particularly pleasant feeling to experience. Our sympathetic selves wants the others suffering to end. However self-validating your emotions is a step towards healing.
You have the right to feel upset, angry, frustrated, lonely, and these feelings are often brought to the surface during meditation. Perhaps they have been hiding in the shadows of your mind and are exposed when we have a few moments to tune in to ourselves. Our inner child yearns to be heard and accepted. I use my meditation time as not only a practice in being more mindful to become better able to achieve my goals in life, but as an opportunity to cultivate an attitude of loving kindness towards myself. Listening to the whispers in the shadows, being grateful for my unique qualities, acknowledging and accepting my emotions without judgment, feeling them fully, and connecting to my essential being.
It is through this practice of loving kindness in meditation that I am better able to show kindness to others from an authentic place, knowing that I practice treating myself the same way.
There is a saying that you cannot draw water from an empty well. If you are running on empty and do not put time aside to cultivate kindness towards yourself, you will not have enough to offer others and will end up feeling depleted. Take a few moments before each meditation to set an intention of loving kindness, no matter what comes up for you during meditation. This attitude and intention will carry through your day and be integrated in everything that you do, bringing more positivity and lightness to your life.