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Improve Your Mindset and Mood with These Three Simple Ways to Practice Loving-Kindness

BLOG banner Loving Kindness

“Love creates a communion with life. Love expands us, connects us, sweetens us, ennobles us. Love springs up in tender concern, it blossoms into caring action. It makes beauty out of all we touch. In any moment we can step beyond our small self and embrace each other as beloved parts of a whole.”

~Jack Kornfield

Do you find yourself reacting to other people’s actions and becoming stressed or angry?  Do you experience thoughts of not being good enough? Do you worry about your loved one’s well-being?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, the practice of loving-kindness might be a helpful solution for you. Recently, we published a Mindful Tip video all about three simple ways to practice loving-kindness. If you didn’t get to see it, you can check it out here: (link: https://youtu.be/U2repZTiLlQ)  I love that Les says, “Love is kind of a big deal!” 😍 Because it is, right?!  I’ll give you a quick summary of the points and I also want to share a few real-life examples of how this practice helped me.

Les suggests that everything we do is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. And the self-nourishing practice of lovingkindness can help you shift your mindset, self-image and self-esteem.

Here are the 3 main ways to practice:

  1. Using loving-kindness as a self practice. (directing love to yourself)
  2. Using loving-kindness as a tool to change your mood as an act of giving. (directing love to others)
  3. Using loving-kindness as an intention for your daily living. (how you interact with others and yourself)

Shortly after this video was published, we followed it up with a loving-kindness or Metta guided meditation practice. (you can find it here: https://youtu.be/tY3NnodM3Ww)

In this practice, you will be guided to recite these phrases:

May you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.

During the practice, you will first direct these phrases to a loved one, then to yourself, then to a neutral person, then to a difficult person, and finally all beings.  I choose to begin with a loved one so you can easily experience the emotion of loving-kindness, even if you may have difficulty feeling it for yourself initially.

Now, because loving-kindness was on the top of my mind after offering these two videos, it came up spontaneously and turned out to be a huge calming opportunity for me.

Let me paint a picture to bring you into my world for a moment. . .

It is summer here in Maryland and I am working both on my online business and driving to the two Pilates studios on a regular basis.  My 15-year-old daughter is in Driver’s Ed and my 13-year-old son is away at Boy Scouts camp.

It’s Monday morning and I just dropped my daughter off and I am on my way to work.  I look into the rearview mirror and see an SUV quickly approaching, definitely going faster than the 35 MPH speed limit.  This is a residential area with many traffic circles.  This car gets closer than I’d like to my car, then cuts off another car to change lanes and pass me.

At this point, my initial instinct is, “This person is a jerk, what’s the hurry?”  And it stresses me out to think someone like this will be driving on the road when my daughter starts to drive as well.  As I see them continue to weave around the cars in front of me, I then think, “Ok, maybe they are late for work, or some important event, let me give them the benefit of the doubt.”

Traffic Loving-Kindness Practice

And finally, when the other car gets stuck behind a school bus, forced to slow down, I recognize my heart beating quickly and my shallow breath that tends to arrive with stress.  At this moment, I begin to recite the loving-kindness statements for this person.

May you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.

I repeat these phrases in my mind, feel the emotions of giving them to another in my heart and send that energy out to the driver of the car, not even knowing who this person is or what they look like.  Immediately, I feel myself calm down and I take a deep, relaxing breath and continue on my way to work.

I imagine the energy of love reaches this person, keeping them safe, happy, healthy and living with ease and that uplifts my mood.  I know if the situation would have been different, I would have arrived to work anxious and not in the best mindset to help my clients and give my best.  This time, I was able to potentially help someone else (I’d like to think loving-kindness reached that person) and feel good about doing so, not to mention calm my nerves in the process.

Fast forward. . .

to later that night as I am getting into bed.  Les and I are going through the positive things that happened during the day and our dreams for our future as we often do.

This is the second night that my son was away at camp.  As I close my eyes to go to sleep, I have a momentary feeling of worry for his well-being off in another state at camp.  Logically, I know he is ok, he is being chaperoned and likely having a wonderful time.

Reduce Worry Loving-Kindness Practice

I imagine him there, in his tent, with his friends, and bring a feeling of love in my heart for him.  I find the love for my children to be deep and powerful and easily brought to mind.  As I hold onto this feeling of love, I recite the loving-kindness phrases in my mind for him.

May you be safe, may you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.

I repeat these phrases in my mind, feel the quality of love in my heart and send them out to my son at camp.  Again, I feel a sense of calm wash over me.  I am able to release my worry and the added suffering of that worry.  And then drift off to sleep easily.

In the past, worry like this has kept me awake longer and resulted in less than productive sleep.  And a bonus, my son called the next day to check-in and seeing his face reminded me further that he is ok!

There is a Practice for Everyone

Love is the answer, I believe!  And the lessons of love are everywhere when you open your eyes and mind to look for them.  Check out this short Mindful Tip about the Lessons of Love for some context on the idea: https://youtu.be/VeuLegsLckM The lessons are everywhere, and they are always teaching us to love.  We can wake up and recognize these lessons to move to a state of even more love!

Whether you like a sitting practice of Metta meditation, or you choose to use the loving-kindness phrases in your day-to-day happenings, these practices can offer many benefits including, but not limited to:

  • Uplifting your mood
  • Quieting your inner critic
  • Increasing empathy
  • Decreasing worry and stress

Community Question Time:  Do you have an example of how the practice of loving-kindness improved a situation in your life?  Or another practice that brings more love into your life and the world as a whole?

We would love to hear from you in the comments below so everyone in the community can learn and benefit from one and other.

Les and I are forever grateful for your support and the opportunity to be of service to this amazing community.  Thank you!

With love and gratitude,

Sara 

The Mindful Movement

BONUS!

PS if you are interested in starting or re-starting your meditation practice, sometimes using guided practices can help keep you focused.

I would love to invite you to start, deepen, or reignite your meditation practice with The Mindful Movement’s Meditation Journey.  We will send you four FREE guided meditation practices right to your inbox every day for four days.

Whether this is your first time practicing meditation, or you have joined the journey with me to deepen or reignite your practice, I am grateful you are interested now.  Know that this journey inward may not always be easy, but it can offer profound benefits when practiced regularly. And like any other skill, it takes practice and patience to experience progress.

You can get started right away here: https://www.themindfulmovementcourses.com/

About the author, Sara

Sara is the founder of The Mindful Movement and the owner of Coreworks Fitness, a Pilates and Yoga studio in MD. Sara is also a Master Pilates and CoreAligh instructor with Balanced Body.

Sara is passionate about helping others grow and live mindful, fulfilled lives. She helps others move better, feel better, live with a deep awareness, gratitude and their whole heart. She strives to inspire others live authentically and passionately in love and abundance.

2 Comments

  1. Leigh on 07/20/2019 at 3:29 PM

    I began consistently practicing yoga, meditation, and loving kindness about 5 years ago. At that time in my life, I had this constant nagging feeling of being unsettled that weighed heavily on me and affected my mood and relationships.

    One of the most important and influential people for me at the time was my mother. She was very negative and critical of basically everyone & everything, and especially her family.

    Loving kindness taught me that I couldn’t change HER behavior and that I had the power and responsibility to lovingly “nudge” her away from the harsh remarks. After a very short time, she became much more pleasant. Now, I look forward to seeing her and hanging out with her <3

  2. steven swinehart on 07/27/2019 at 6:24 PM

    I deeply appreciate Sara’s work here st mindful movement 🇺🇸👣. She has a sweet calming authentic voice 😇

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