Mindfulness Activity #136

Mindfulness Activity #136

Loving Kindness Series Day 6

Good morning! As we continue to practice loving kindness meditations together, today’s exercise is adapted from a practice used by the Fresno Veteran’s Administration. Loving kindness practices have been shown to reduce trauma symptoms in individuals who return from combat with PTSD symptoms. The effects of the practice on PTSD symptoms have been found to be lasting- with symptom reductions persisting at 6 month and 1 year. Neuroscientists have found changes in the part of the brain that controls automatic fear responses, as well as impulsive anger reactions in response to mindfulness practices like this one.

To begin today’s practice, please try to find a happy memory. This could be a time you felt unconditionally loved or a time you felt happy or at peace. I have a memory from when I was about 7 years old. I had eaten a popsicle and run in the sprinkler and I was chilly even though it was a hot summer day. I remember laying on a picnic table bench and feeling the sun warm me back up and being completely content. See if you can identify any specific moment in your past when you felt content. Ready?

When you are ready, sit tall, breathe deeply to energize you and make you alert and release an extended exhale. Keep breathing in and out with your exhales being longer than your inhales.

Now call to mind your pleasant memory. Notice how you felt in your body. Maybe you felt some warmth…or heat in the face. A smile…a sense of expansiveness. This is lovingkindness, a natural feeling that is accessible to all of us…always. Try to feel what you felt at the time you were feeling content. Resting with this feeling of open, unconditional love for a few minutes while you continue to breathe-staying connected to your memory and your breath and body sensations. Invite and welcome the feelings of peace and acceptance…

Now, begin by wishing yourself well by extending words of loving kindness to yourself.

May I be filled with lovingkindness
May I be held in loving kindness
May I feel connected and calm
May I accept myself just as I am
May I be happy
May I know the natural joy of being alive

And, now repeating in the mind these words of friendship and kindness to yourself once again…

May I be filled with lovingkindness
May I be held in loving kindness
May I feel connected and calm
May I accept myself just as I am
May I be happy
May I know the natural joy of being alive

Now you can open the circle of lovingkindness by bringing to mind someone who is dear to you. Someone whom you care about and who has always been supportive. Reflect on this person’s basic goodness, sensing what it is in particular that you love about him or her. In your heart feel your appreciation for this dear one, and begin your simple offering…

May you be filled with lovingkindness
May you be held in lovingkindness
May you feel my love now
May you accept yourself just as you are
May you be happy
May you know the natural joy of being alive

Now bring to mind a “neutral” person. This is someone you might see regularly but don’t know well…It might be a newscaster or a person on a commercial. Bring this person to mind now, and repeat the words of loving kindness…

May you be filled with lovingkindness
May you be held in lovingkindness
May you feel my love now
May you accept yourself just as you are
May you be happy
May you know the natural joy of being alive

And now, if it’s possible for you, bring to mind someone with whom you’ve had a difficult relationship. Perhaps it’s someone you don’t like to feel sympathy or compassion for. Seeing if it’s possible to let go of feelings of resentment and dislike for this person. Reminding yourself to see this person as a whole being…deserving of love and kindness. As someone who feels pain and anxiety…as someone who also suffers. Seeing if it’s possible to extend to this person the words of loving kindness in your mind… Repeat,

May you be filled with lovingkindness
May you be held in lovingkindness
May you feel my love now
May you accept yourself just as you are
May you be happy
May you know the natural joy of being alive

Now, allow your awareness to open out in all directions…yourself, a dear one, a neutral person and a difficult person…and of all beings…humans and animals living everywhere…living in richness, poverty, war, peace, hunger, abundance…Aware of all the joys and sorrows that all beings experience. Repeat…

May all beings be filled with lovingkindness
May all beings be happy
May all beings awaken and be free
May all beings be happy

And now, bringing this practice to a close by coming back to extend kindness to yourself once again. Sit and breathe for a few moments sitting in the energy of loving kindness that may have been generated here.

Enjoy your weekend!

Michele

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