So, for the month of February I have been posting regularly about the benefits of Loving Kindness on social media. It's been great fun filming the guided meditations and I shall copy them across to my Serenity Balance Youtube Channel at the weekend ... once I've worked out how to again!
Loving Kindness is one of the three core components of compassion. These are: kindness, having a recognition of common humanity and mindfulness.
I will describe each of the three components separately but Gilbert and Choden say that,
‘It’s more like (as we would say) a social mentality. '
P Gilbert, Choden (2014), Mindful Compassion, Chapter 4, Page 135.
In other words, whilst each element is a unique and separate entity we need to foster a combination of all three in order to have self-compassion.
Kindness is described by Gilbert and Choden as ‘Understanding one’s difficulties and being kind and warm in the face of failure or setbacks rather than harshly judgemental and self-critical’. (As above, Page 134).
Thus kindness is a gentle, nurturing way to be with yourself. Being kind to yourself helps prevent that self-critical voice that tells you it’s your fault. Being kind to yourself can include using self-soothing words of endearment or allowing yourself time to relax.
In other words .... It's GREAT to direct Loving Kindness to ourselves!
The second core component is having a recognition of common humanity. Vidyamala Burch states that,
‘… human beings face the same difficulties and are propelled by the same tendencies. We live them out uniquely, but we enact the same dramas and struggle with the same predicaments.’ V Burch (2010), Living Well With Pain & Illness, Chapter 4, Page 47.
When pressure has an effect of people’s lives, to the extent that it is having an effect on their health and wellbeing, by having a recognition that others may be in a similar situation can help to avoid feelings of separateness and isolation.
The third core component of compassion is mindfulness. By having an awareness of the current situation, and the way it may manifest itself in our bodies, we may become less likely to avoid acceptance of our health issues. We may be less likely to turn to additive behaviours, or to develop a sense that we are overwhelmed by the situation. Being mindful leads to an awareness and acceptance of ‘what is’.
Showing empathy towards ourselves allows us to create a feeling of mutual trust. When we are able to connect with our feelings we can support others to do the same for themselves.
As Maya Angelou said,
‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’
If you have compassion then you will have a wish to support an individual in easing their suffering. I believe this goes hand in hand with loving kindness. When we have loving kindness to ourselves then we can offer loving kindness to others, wishing them to be free from harm.
Goldstein and Stahl state that we should have sympathetic joy so that we can delight in the happiness and joy of others and finally, equanimity, described as an evenness and steadiness of mind allowing us to have balance and composure.
All this month on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram I have been posting the benefits of practising the Loving Kindness Meditation. Please do follow the links and see for yourself.
My favourite is that it is 'Anti-ageing!' What's there not to love?
I'd love to hear what your favourite benefit is. Please do drop me a line.
You can find three Loving Kindness guided Meditations on my Facebook Page @serenitybalanceuk.
Next month we'll be looking at the Mindful Body Scan.
Bye for now x
Each month, throughout 2017, I will be posting in more detail about the topic of the month. Let me know if there's anything specific you'd like me to discuss.