How to use Kindness in your Life
All over Asia within the Theravada Buddhist temples Loving kindness, compassion, and equanimity are practiced as foundations towards enlightenment. These foundations aren’t just practiced for the benefit of others, Loving Kindness, Compassion and Equanimity are practiced within the minds of every Monks inner speech. Every Monk trains his inner speech to be more compassionate and loving towards themselves, forgiving their faults and imperfections.
This is a practice that we can all take great benefit from. Kindness is scientifically proven to make us feel uplifted and inspired. Kindness also produces oxytocin and nitric oxide two substances that have a positive effect on reducing the free radicals in our blood as well as sort of cleaning our arteries and reducing blood pressure.
Kindness however isn’t just about the grand gestures to others or giving large sums of money to a charity. kindness is all about the little things in life. And it’s those little acts of kindness towards ourselves that I want you to focus on today.
Kindness towards ourselves is sometimes overlooked, and we can become our own worst critic. Kindness towards ourselves is one of the most important lessons to learn throughout your entire life, without patience and kindness towards yourself and your mistakes your progression will be slow. I want you to praise yourself for achieving your goals, I want you to congratulate yourself when you have done something good. And above all I want you to be kind towards your faults.
Instead of punishing yourself for making mistakes, acknowledge those mistake and move on, don’t punish yourself for doing it, just acknowledge and move forward, you will progress much fast this way and feel optimism and positivity stay with you for much longer and longer periods.
If you think this is a little silly, just remember this. If I were to ask you to do a complicated task you had never tried before, and kept shouting abuse at you like a sergeant major, at everything you kept doing wrong, how would you feel? Now what about if I praised your achievements as you were doing this complicated task and congratulated you as you progressed, how would you then feel? Which one of these ways of doing this would you complete the task feeling better about yourself?
If you are having trouble practicing kindness towards yourself, then we have a lovely Buddhist meditation called Metta or loving kindness meditation you can practice. Going over some of the exercises found on this website will also help kindness gradually become part of your everyday life.
Loving kindness or Metta Brhavana meditation
There are a few methods and ways to practice loving kindness, the method I describe below I find works wonderfully for me. It is one of visualisation, as a former Buddhist monk in Northern Thailand and after many years of meditation practice and guidance I find this is the most suitable way for my western mind. This method however is just one of the three ways to practice which will achieve loving kindness in the heart.
Reflecting and auditory are the other two methods used to create the feeling of loving kindness. Reflect on the positive qualities of yourself or a loved one will ensure loving kindness to flourish with in the heart. Using a mantra is the auditory approach and an example could be as simple as repeating the words “loving kindness”
However I’m going to describe below the method of visualisation.
The First thing we need to do is find the love from within ourselves. Now I understand that may sound a little scary to some. Visualisation is a great way to achieve love inside, we all have something we love, something that will bring that feeling back when you start to think deeply enough about it. For me this is my adopted stray dog Marley and the crazy fun things he gets up to.
If your still finding difficulty thinking of something that your really love this much, then go and do the finding The seven wonders in your life exercise.
First of all find a comfortable place, somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Now sitting in a comfortable position with a straight spine, gently relax your shoulder and neck muscles and slowly close your eyes. Take a few long deep breaths and feel yourself gently relaxing. Let’s start by calmly watch your breathing, don’t disturb your breathing, just let it be natural. Breathing in, be aware your breathing, breathing out, be aware your breathing out. Count one.
Now bring your object of love to the forefront of your mind and begin to feel the love you have for this object. So for myself I bring Marley moo to the forefront of my mind and think of the funny antics he does. Now really start to explore that feeling, the feeling of love you have for your object in your minds eye. Don’t worry if you feel a little resistance at first, be kind to yourself and be patient. Try to find where the feeling is coming from, do you notice how the feeling grows the more you explore it. Again don’t panic if you feel resistance to this, it is all ok, it just means a little more patience and kindness towards yourself is needed.
Now feel that love start to consume you, feel it’s warmth, is your smile hurting you cheeks yet. If you are having trouble visualising, please still use loving kindness with yourself, this is not going to be easy for some. Tell yourself it’s ok we can have another go later, always be patient and kind towards yourself and even that is practicing loving kindness.
You may wish to stay here meditating on the love you have found inside yourself, and that’s perfectly ok, however if you want to send that love out to others, continue to practice as described below.
Once we have the feeling of love flowing within ourselves, it’s time to send out our love to others. We now use a mantra with our loving kindness, to truly send out our positive vibration to the chosen person. First we start with ourselves. Repeat this ten times to yourself, or out loud that’s entirely up to you.
May I be happy
May I be free from metal suffering and distress
May I be free of physical pain and suffering
May I be peaceful and at ease
Now we are going to give that love from our heart, that loving kindness to someone other than ourselves. The Four Types of Persons to develop loving-kindness towards are
a respected, beloved person – such as a spiritual teacher;
a dearly beloved – which could be a close family member or friend;
a neutral person – somebody you know, but have no special feelings towards, e.g.: a person who serves you in a shop;
a hostile person – someone you are currently having difficulty with.
Starting with yourself, then systematically sending loving-kindness from person to person in the above order will have the effect of breaking down the barriers between the four types of people and yourself. This will have the effect of breaking down the divisions within your own mind, the source of much of the conflict we experience
May (insert name) be happy
May (insert name) be free from suffering and distress
May (insert name) be free of physical pain and suffering
May (insert name) be peaceful and at ease
If you find your mind wanders or you notice your loving kindness looses it ferocity, at this point always be kind and patient with yourself, slowly return to the original object of focus, take a few deep breaths and start again. once you have established the feeling again in your heart, continue with the mantra.
*Dhamma Tāpasā is a trained former Buddhist Monk and the spiritual name given to Andrew Hallas. An inspirational positive life coach & teacher of mindfulness and meditation techniques through the art of storytelling. Dhamma Tāpasā is able to capture our imaginations whilst teaching us valuable moral principles and deepening our understanding of the human consciousness and the everyday problems we face.