Mindfulness Activity #147

Mindfulness Activity #147

Loving Kindness Series Day 17

Good Morning! As we continue to explore the reasons why loving-kindness practices are beneficial, today we will focus on emotions. It makes sense that our emotions arise naturally from our interactions in the world. We cannot control them or prevent them from happening. However, we actually create lenses or filters for our experiences without even realizing it. Research has indicated that some individuals scan the environment for negative things. When we are anxious or angry we are much more likely to notice things that perpetuate those feelings. How can loving kindness practice help? We can actually tip the scales towards the emotional reactions we might have.

Sitting in loving kindness actually generates warm, friendly, positive emotions. Even 15 minutes a day of practice has been found to dramatically increase the positive emotions one experiences throughout the days and weeks. As we have discussed before, the impact of having more positive emotions has been well-studied. We see increases in efficiency, productivity, a sense of well-being and overall happiness, increases in optimism and problem solving tenacity, reduced physical pain and increased connections to others.

If I sound like a snake oil salesperson, my apologies. I often cite research so you can trust that these practices work. Mindfulness will not solve all your problems, but I firmly believe it will make it easier for you to solve them and to tolerate unpleasant situations that can’t be solved or can’t be solved right away.

So for today, one thing that I would like to focus on in our practice is the act of actually getting yourself to feel warmth and friendliness in your body. All our LK practices begin by thinking about something or someone that naturally brings a feeling of warmth or joy or love. But Sharon Salzberg teaches that these practices take time. Simply thinking of the person and repeating phrases does not make you feel warmth or joy in your body. This actually takes a bit of work…not hard work—more like gentle patient work. It requires some imagination to conjure up feelings you might have felt in the past and to re-experience them when you think of that pleasant memory.

So today as we begin, sit tall, breathe and really try to physically relax your face and see if you can allow a gentle smile in response to any loving memory or feeling towards a person you have felt close to or to a time in your life that you experienced true contentment. If you can, allow yourself to feel pleasant.

Thinking of a person you care about, repeat…

May you be free from anger, fear and worry
May you be comfortable and free from the need for the approval of others
May you be curious and open
May you be compassionate and kind
May you feel contentment no matter your circumstances

Thinking of a neutral person, repeat…

May you be free from anger, fear and worry
May you be comfortable and free from the need for the approval of others
May you be curious and open
May you be compassionate and kind
May you feel contentment no matter your circumstances

Thinking of a neutral person who is angry or difficult, repeat…

May you be free from anger, fear and worry
May you be comfortable and free from the need for the approval of others
May you be curious and open
May you be compassionate and kind
May you feel contentment no matter your circumstances

Check your smile, your face, and feelings of warmth in your heart. If you are not feeling those things, breathe and recall the start of our practice until you do feel some joy or love. Then, thinking of yourself with love and compassion, repeat…

May I be free from anger, fear and worry
May I be comfortable and free from the need for the approval of others
May I be curious and open
May I be compassionate and kind
May I feel contentment no matter my circumstances

Now before you return to face your day, sit in this warm feeling and notice what it feels like to be open and nonjudgmental. In this moment you likely feel kindness towards yourself and others. Remember what this feels like in your body. Take a deep breath in and out to sit in that awareness. Return to this place with breath throughout the day.

Wishing you an easy day today!

Michele

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