The practice of Mindfulness goes hand to hand with two important factors: the first one is SELF-OBSERVATION, that is our capacity as human beings to be introspective, to look inward and see ourselves, our thoughts and behaviors. The second is LOVING- KINDNESS.
Cultivating an attitude of Loving-Kindness in our daily life means observing ourselves without any judgment, without the need to criticize our thinking and acting, without labelling what we see with words and concepts such a good/ bad, like/ dislike, right/ wrong.
Instead, we use compassion, gentleness and love.
Personally speaking, I find much easier for me to be compassionate, loving and understanding with other people than with myself. In fact, when it comes to me, my "inner judge" is harsh and unsympathetic, as if I have no right to be wrong, to be confused or simply to feel bad. Thanks to Loving-Kindness, I’ve eventually discovered a more kind, tender and open person within myself, less inclined to judgment when things do not go as I want them to be; I’ve realized that my mind has to unlearn all the things that I once believed were correct, in order to open a new space to express who I really am; I’ve discovered I am less worried, more joyful and creative, but above all more at peace with myself; I’ve learned that I don't have to be perfect, just to embrace who I am with love because it is in the space of love and compassion that transformation really occurs, not in the rigidity of our mind where everything has to be and happen in certain specific way.
Although loving-kindness consists of very simple practices that are accessible to each of us, it might be difficult to start because we are not used to receiving love from ourselves. So if you are at the beginning of your practice, have a lot of patience with yourself and keep going even if, at first, you won't make any sense out of it and/or if you won’t feel comfortable.
Here I’m sharing a couple of Loving-Kindness exercises that can be very useful in challenging and uncomfortable moments:
- observe your thoughts for at least 5 minutes every day. Don't try to stop thinking but don't follow them neither. Just allow yourself to observe what your inner dialogue is and the quality of the words you use to communicate with yourself. Remember not to judge what you see, just watch. Then, when you notice that you are criticizing or judging yourself, stop and tell yourself what you need to hear in that moment, as if you were a loving parent talking to your child. It can be something as simple as: “I am here, you are not alone", "I know it is difficult, I am here with you", "I love you”.
- Practice loving-kindness meditation to help you expand the love that is within you towards all beings. Say out loud or within yourself:
MAY ALL BEINGS BE PEACEFUL.
MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY.
MAY ALL BEINGS BE SAFE.
MAY ALL BEINGS AWAKEN TO THE LIGHT OF THEIR TRUE NATURE.
MAY ALL BEINGS BE FREE.