Thursday, September 2, 2010

Day Fourteen {Meditation Challenge}: Lovingkindness

Becoming a parent has the power to transform us completely.  Our heart opens to a real unconditional love.  We gain strength from caring for our children and from loving them so completely -- so freely, without judgment, and with a boundless heart.  Before becoming a mama, I didn't know that my heart was capable of loving like this... of supporting so much and wanting so little in return.  This human heart is an amazing thing.

If the breeze just brought you by, today is the last day of our 14 Day Meditation Challenge.  I hope you'll enjoy the posts now archived here.  If you've been with us all along, thank you!  Sharing thoughts and reflections here has been a real joy.  

Today's practice is my absolute favorite.  I hope you'll try this one and consider sharing it with your kids.  It asks us to visit that place that being a parent sparks... that place where we love with our whole heart.  

To begin, sit comfortably with your eyes closed.  Breathe gently and imagine yourself sitting between two people who love you.  Visualize yourself receiving this love and recite a few phrases such as these:

May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be at ease and happy.

As you repeat these phrases, picture yourself as you are now and hold that image in lovingkindness. 

Next, imagine someone you love -- your children, your spouse, or a dear friend -- and radiate this lovingkindness to them.  Repeat the same phrases, 

May you be filled with lovingkindness.
May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May you be well in body and mind.
May you be at ease and happy.

Then picture a neutral person - someone with whom you have few associations - and repeat your phrases for them.  Next, bring to mind someone with whom you've had difficulties.  Picture this person in your mind and hold that image in lovingkindness while repeating your phrases.  Jack Kornfield writes, "as your heart opens, first to loved ones and friends, you will find that in the end you won't want to close it anymore."

The next step is imagining all four -- yourself, a loved one, a neutral one, and a difficult one -- and radiating lovingkindness to all four.  Finally, allow your heart to open completely and radiate this love to the whole earth.  Something that I've really enjoyed is holding a picture in my mind of the Earth as our mother and giving her and all of the children who have grown from her -- all plants, animals, & people -- my lovingkindness.

In the three-minute video below, Sylvia Boorstein, a co-founding teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, gives a beautiful demonstration of lovingkindness mediation.   

For a seven minute long mediation with Sylvia, click here.  For more information, also see Sharon Salzberg's website and pick up her book, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness.  For more on Loving-kindness Meditation for Children, visit Gregory Kramer's site at

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