I’ve found that inner training, such as, purposefully reflecting on goodness, warms us up to express our appreciation more naturally.
In Buddhism, the lovingkindness (metta) meditation does just that. In the traditional meditation, we reflect on the goodness of a widening circle of beings—eventually including all life everywhere—and reflect on set phrases of well-wishing.
Over the last several decades, I’ve found that this meditation becomes increasingly embodied and powerful when we experiment with visual imagery, touch, and whispering words.
Students have found it life changing to offer themselves lovingkindness by gently placing a hand on their heart and whispering, “It’s okay sweetheart,” or “This belongs,” or “May you be happy,” or whatever message most comforts.
10 Ways to Bring Lovingkindness Practice Alive In Your Daily Life
1. Set an intention to reflect, each morning for a week, on the goodness of people you live with or see most regularly. Then, whenever you remember during the day, silently offer them your prayers.
2. Whenever someone you know triggers feelings of irritation or insecurity, pause, recall some specific example of that person’s goodness, and mentally whisper, “May you be happy.”
3. Choose a “neutral” person you encounter regularly, and whenever you see them the following week, remind yourself of their goodness, silently offer your wishes for their well-being. Notice if your feelings for this person change.
4. Choose a “difficult” person, and set a time to reflect daily on his or her goodness. After you’ve offered prayers of lovingkindness for at least two weeks, ask yourself, “Is there a change in my feelings? Has there been any change in their behavior toward me?”
5. Discover what happens when you let someone know the goodness you are seeing in them.
6. Keep your practice fresh and alive by experimenting with whatever words, images, or gestures, awaken a genuine sense of connectedness and care.
7. Explore whispering your prayer for yourself or another person aloud.
8. Explore saying the name of the person you’re praying for.
9. Imagine and feel your heart holding the people you’re praying for.
10. Visualize them feeling healed and loved and uplifted by your prayer.
Even a few moments of reflecting on goodness and offering lovingkindness can reconnect you with the purity of your loving heart.
Excerpted from Radical Compassion: Learning to Love Yourself and Your World with the Practice of RAIN by Tara Brach. Copyright © 2019 Viking. Used with permission.