Loving kindness: A powerful practice

Loving kindness or metta is an ancient Buddhist practice of giving compassion to oneself and others. Sounds simple?  Not really. Giving compassion to oneself is not what most people do.  In fact, there is a billion dollar industry built on books on self-improvement. If we stroll down the self-help section of a Barnes and Noble, we find shelves of books on how to be better human beings, how to look better, how to prevent aging, how to achieve the perfect body, how to have better relationships etc.  We get the message that whoever we are or whatever we’ve done in our lives is clearly not good enough.

It’s so easy to be critical of ourselves and others. Loving kindness is acceptance. A loving kindness meditation I practice and teach is:

May I be filled with loving kindness

May I be well

May I be peaceful and at ease

May I be happy

When you practice meditating on loving kindness first for yourself and then for others, you begin to develop more compassion and acceptance. It doesn’t happen overnight but gradually, the message gets through. We can stop trying to improve and love and accept ourselves just as we are. We also learn to accept and love the other people in our lives.

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