In Real Happiness Sharon tells us about one of her students who thought “the whole idea of lovingkindness meditation seemed hokey and rote to her, but she focused on the phrases nevertheless.” I’ve thought the same exact thing about lovingkindness meditation. It’s a group hug, mushy, mawkish. As much as I like the idea of lovingkindness in theory, I’ve never taken it very seriously. I might say to myself “May I be happy,” a few times and think of my mom for a while, but sooner or later—usually around the time I start trying to extend that warm feeling to some jerk or other—it just starts to feel silly and I go back to the serious business of trying to develop concentration.
Not today. Today I’m going to try to do some lovingkindness in earnest. Why the change of heart? To be honest, it’s because it’s been a long week. I’ve felt defeated and have been harder on myself than usual—mostly about perceived transgressions against my body. You’re not sleeping enough. You’re not working out enough or meditating enough. How can you eat so much crappy food? It’s endless and it’s exhausting. So today I’ve decided to try to meet that negativity head on and give myself a little love for once. Sharon writes:
I’m worthless. When we extend lovingkindness to ourselves we begin to poke holes in that old, painful story. Making a point of acknowledging positive emotions and accomplishments, as we do in practice, gives us a truer picture of ourselves and a greater sense of being sustained and nourished.
I’ll let you know how this lovingkindness experiment goes.
I’m not sure that I’ve earned it, but I need it.
Image: from the Flickr photostream of idea ablaze.
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