Saturday, July 31, 2010

Directing the love flow

When you’ve initated the flow of love, you can channel it, first to yourself and then to the other people in your life. After practicing the preceding meditation for five minutes or longer, continue in the following way:
  1. As you allow lovingkindness to fill your being, you may want to express the wishes and intentions that underlie this love. For example, you might say to yourself, as the Buddhists do, “May I be happy. May I be peaceful. May I be free from suffering.” Or you may want to choose something from the Western religious tradition, such as “May I be filled with the grace and love of God.” Feel free to use whatever words feel right for you. Just be sure to keep them general, simple, and emotionally evocative. As the recipient, be sure to take in the love as well as extend it.
  2. When you feel complete with yourself for now, imagine someone for whom you feel gratitude and respect. Take some time (at least a few minutes) to direct the flow of love to this person, using similar words to express your intentions. Don’t hurry; allow yourself to feel the love as much as you can, rather than merely imagine it.
  3. Take some time to direct this lovingkindness to a loved one or dear friend in a similar way.Direct this flow of love to someone for whom you feel neutral — perhaps someone you see from time to time but toward whom you have neither positive nor negative feelings.
  4. Now, for the hardest part of this exercise: Direct your lovingkindness to someone toward whom you feel mildly negative feelings like irritation or hurt
By extending love to this person, even just a little at first, you begin to develop the capacity to keep your heart open even in challenging circumstances. Eventually, you can extend love to people toward whom you experience stronger emotions like anger, fear, or pain.

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