Transform Your Thinking; Transform Your Life
Kindness and Compassion
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. It’s scientifically proven that kindness and compassion make us feel uplifted and inspired. They will also produce oxytocin and nitric oxide, two substances that have a positive effect on reducing the free radicals in our blood. They also help clean our arteries and reducing blood pressure.
Kindness and compassion isn’t just about the grand gestures we make too others, or the giving we do to charities. Being kind and compasionate is all about the little things in life, those little acts of kindness when no-one looking. And it’s those little acts of kindness towards ourselves that I want us to focus on today.
kindness towards ourselves
Being Kind and compassionate towards ourselves can be overlooked in our lives, we can become our own worst critic. Kindness towards ourselves is one of the most important lessons to learn throughout our entire life, without patience and kindness towards ourselves and the mistakes we make, our progression will be slow. We need to praise ourself for achieving our goals, congratulate ourselves when we have done something good and we’re proud of. And above all we need to be kind towards our faults.
Instead of punishing ourselves when we make mistakes, we should acknowledge them, thank them for the lessons they teach. And move on! We don’t need to punish ourself for doing them. We need to just acknowledge and move forward, we will progress much fast this way and feel more Optimistic and that positivity will stay with us for longer and longer periods.
don’t think yourself silly
If you think this is a little silly, just remember this. ‘What did it feel like when you were a child being punished?” you may respond with “yes but I need to keep myself on track”
What happens if we praised our mistakes and congratulated our achievements, as we progress through complicated tasks, how would you then feel? It’s not a cool proof system but being kind to ourselves is living in the positive and we will stay on track. We begin learn quicker and mover forward with hope, optimism and courage.
When we begin experiencing trouble practicing kindness and compassion towards yourself, then this lovely Buddhist meditation called Metta Bhravana or loving kindness meditation is going to help.
Loving kindness or Metta Bhravana 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.
kindness and Compassion through 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.
How To Practice Kindness and Compassion towards ourselves
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.
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bring in the object of love
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.
Feel The love Consume you
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.
now we have that love feeling
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.
Kind and Warmest Regards
Dhamma Tāpasā*(Andrew Hallas)
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*Dhamma Tāpasā is a fully trained former Buddhist Monk and the spiritual name given to Andrew Hallas. The creator of the highly acclaimed “The Four Trees” a story of learning how we can all live a more fulfilled and content lifestyle. Now a Life Changing and inspirational Positive Mind Transformative Guide, Mindfulness Trainer, Published Author and the creator of The Revive & Thrive – A Positive Mind Training