Cultivating feelings of love for yourself and love for others is a wonderful thing. We could all use a little more heart—or let’s call it empathy—not only for those around us but also, perhaps most importantly, for ourselves. By this I mean finding ways to accept what is, observe yourself, and make changes that you decide will serve you as you move through the world. It’s an easy equation: By focusing on yourself first, cultivating a mindfully open and empathic heart, you will find you have love to spare for those around you. As the writer Anne Lamott says, “If you want loving feelings, do loving things.”
Most traditions and cultures, whether ancient or modern, Eastern or Western, talk about the spiritual dimension of the heart and its role in experiencing the power of love, willpower, and inner wisdom. When we linger too long with fear, doubt, grief, and hopelessness in our heart, we undermine our capacity for love and we have officially entered a negative feedback loop.
In this guided meditation for love and kindness, I offer a way to access feelings of love and being loved, and a way to establish a positive loop over time. Don’t worry if it takes awhile to really develop these feelings. Just keep doing it, using your imagination. It involves accessing a memory of a time when you had the feeling of loving or being loved, being cared for or caring deeply for someone else. Just that. None of the backstory or after effects, just the simple feeling of love, however you can call it up in your memory.
So practice this easy meditation regularly and shine a light around your whole body, especially the area of the physical heart. Open yourself up to a more positive loop. There is no way to be happy all the time or live in a permanent state of joy, nor should we try. We benefit from being open to observing the ways in which we have both negative and positive feelings. The next step is to understand that failures of empathy are human and necessary. The next yet is to reach for the light since as humans, this is a more satisfying way to live our lives. It certainly helps us bond, heal, let go, and be more in sync with those around us.
By Lisa Hedley