How to Mindfully Love: A Loving-Kindness Practice.

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Can we mindfully love? Can we be present for ourselves and for those we love?

I have been in personal practice around love and relationships for as long as I can remember. However, I always had a deep knowing that the most important relationship was the one with myself.

I was married for 13 years and have been divorced for four. I have two beautiful children. I have been dating on and off for those four years. Asking this question: Can I mindfully love?

I became Buddhist about seven years ago. When I first walked into a Buddhist monastery based in the Thai Forest tradition, it was like coming home. I have not looked back. What it has invited me to do, in the gentlest way, is look within. To wake up the places that have been dormant for many years. After a very challenging separation and divorce, I began to lean more into my practice.

A practice that I continually come back to is the practice of loving-kindness (or metta practice). Loving-kindness for myself, for those it is easy to love and care for, for those I have trouble with, and all beings everywhere—this practice has been instrumental in my growth as a spiritual being having a human experience.

As we recite the phrases below, we can connect more within ourselves and with our intentions. Our metta practice is like planting seeds of love and well wishes over and over in our hearts.

Mindfully loving oneself is really the only way we can have loving relationships outside of ourselves, whether that is with an intimate partner, friends, family, or any other beings. If we can focus that loving kindness practice within, then it impacts five feet in front of us and has a ripple effect that can impact even greater distances.

Often we seek this outside of ourselves, and we crave from others what we can give ourselves. When the lens gets turned into ourselves, we are able to really be love, experience love, and thus feel the return of walking through life this way.

This is an invitation to practice loving-kindness every day or during times of struggle.

Lets take a moment and practice this together.

1. Find a comfortable position, whether it is sitting, lying down, or standing. Bringing awareness to your heart space, place a hand on your chest. We are holding space for ourselves in this moment. Take a deep breath in, and know you are breathing in; take a deep breath out, and know you are breathing out.

Recite the following phrases, directing this toward your own well-being:

May I be filled with loving-kindness,
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers,
May I be peaceful in body and mind,
May I be happy and free from suffering.

Breathe in that awareness and notice whatever arises in the body, heart, and mind. Even if this feels awkward, notice the awkwardness of the practice.

2. Next bring to mind someone it is easy to love and care for: a pet, a friend’s new baby, or someone you feel neutral about. Repeat the following phrases inwardly, again noticing what arises:

May you be filled with loving-kindness,
May you be safe from inner and outer dangers,
May you be peaceful in body and mind,
May you be happy and free from suffering.

3. Next bring friends and family into your awareness and repeat the phrases below. With full attention to all that is arising—notice everything:

May you be filled with loving-kindness,
May you be safe from inner and outer dangers,
May you be peaceful in body and mind,
May you be happy and free from suffering.

4. This next part can sometimes be challenging for people, but it is an integral part of the practice. Again noticing whatever is arising with an open heart, bring someone to mind that you are having challenges with, repeating the phrase quietly to yourself. Notice any resistance that may come up. Breathe and pause in this awareness:

May you be filled with loving-kindness,
May you be safe from inner and outer dangers,
May you be peaceful in body and mind,
May you be happy and free from suffering.

5. The last part of the practice is to bring all beings in all places and times into our awareness, repeating the following phrases:

May you be filled with loving-kindness,
May you be safe from inner and outer dangers,
May you be peaceful in body and mind,
May you be happy and free from suffering.

Sit with the effects of the practice; feel your heart and notice what sensations and emotions may be arising. Breathe it in with a sense of acceptance.

May this practice not only benefit us, but benefit all those close to us, and all beings everywhere.

So, can we love mindfully? I believe we can when we practice loving-kindness for ourselves and others, and make it a daily practice.

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Author: Nina (Khema) Fields 
Image: Max Pixel
Editor: Travis May

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Nina (Khema) Fields

Nina (Khema) Fields is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor (RTC), long-term Buddhist practitioner, a gifted intuitive, Pilates teacher, and loving mother to two heartful children. Catch up with Khema on her website and Instagram.

Nina Fields Jun 5, 2017 5:19pm

Thank you for reading.

Todd C Schuett Jun 4, 2017 6:31pm

Thank you for sharing this practice