Every day presents us with challenges and how we respond is ultimately our choice. If you desire to live a happy and fulfilled life, it takes effort. You cannot merely listlessly drift through life and hope for the best. The pursuit of joy lies in your hands.
Loving-Kindness is a great practice to move into more joy. It has been practiced by Buddhists for at least two-thousand years. Not to be confused with romantic love, loving-kindness is a deep love that one can feel for strangers, friends, enemies, and the surrounding world. It helps us overcomes barriers. It is an accessible practice with no attachments to the religion that can be practiced anytime, anywhere.
3 Ways to Incorporate Loving-Kindness Into Your Daily Life:
1. As Meditation
The first is the most obvious - it can be practiced as meditation. Find a comfortable seat and settle into your body and breath. Begin to cultivate the sensation of loving-kindness by feeling what that feels like to you.
Once cultivated, direct the loving-kindness toward yourself first. Fill your cup! Then, begin to send it to various people in your life, like a beloved family member or friend. Then pass it on to someone neutral in your life, such as your mailman. And then finally, direct your loving-kindness toward someone whom you have negative feelings toward. This last one is the most difficult, but will make a huge difference in your life!
2. Upon Waking
You can also do this in bed in the morning. It is a similar practice to setting an intention or cultivating gratitude upon waking. Before your eyes even open, you can begin to cultivate the feeling of loving-kindness so that it infuses your day.
3. When You Feel Challenged
Another way to practice loving-kindness is to make it a habit whenever you feel challenged, whether it's at work, in your marriage, or with a friendship. Give yourself permission to take a step back from the situation and cultivate loving -kindness toward it. See what opening yourself up to this space provides and if an alternative solution arises instead of anger, resentment, or the usual resolutions that may occur and end in the repetition of the problem.
Loving-Kindness is a way to break free of unhealthy habits of the mind so the heart can guide you into a greater space of clarity and joy. Try these practices and notice the positive impact they have on cultivating a happier, more mindful life.