The practice of loving kindness stems from that welling up desire to stop the pain and prevent suffering, but it is more. Loving kindness is that natural wish and hope that we, ourselves, and our loved ones not only be free from illness, pain and difficulty, but that we and they experience an abundance of goodness that is available in life—love, joy, meaning, connection and happiness, to name a few.
The felt sense of this can sometimes be experienced in the heart-space as a simple, effortless, wholehearted openness and energetic rush, like that that a nurturing parent has for a beloved child; that wanting of goodness that they enjoy a successful life of prosperity, love, and fulfillment. That they be healthy and able to meet the demands of life. That they be kept safe and free from harm. That they know goodness in their heart and mind.
You can see this in all mammals, really. Sometimes it shows itself as a fierce protective factor—a mother bear protecting her cubs, willing to maim and even kill to keep her babies safe. Teaching them to hunt for themselves, so they can be nourished throughout life. Letting them play and give and receive affection.
And in that way we, too, can see and use a loving kindness practice as a protective factor—sometimes a fierce one—against our own ‘enemies’ like our Inner Critic or unhealthy habits, or just to help meet the difficulties happening in our lives at any given time. And research indicates it can help with so much more. A loving kindness practices:
These are all wonderful benefits, but most of all, Loving kindness is especially important to weave into our mindfulness practices because as we sit on our cushion (or in our chair) and the truth of life seeps into our consciousness, meeting it in the moment with kindness and compassion is really the best caring and loving response we can give to ourselves.
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