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Mindful : August 2015
68 mindful August 2015 Connect with Kindness It’s easy to feel separate from other people and forms of life. When experiencing the world dualistically, there’s a per vasive sense of “us” and “ them,” or “self” and “other.” But no matter our belief system, actions, or status, we are all joined together in this world through strands of relationship and interconnection. By practicing loving-kindness med- itation, you can learn to see the lives of others as related to your own. This doesn’t mean you must like everybody, or agree with ever ything they do. It means you can open up to the possibility of caring for others not just because you like them, admire them, or are indebted to them, but because your lives are inex- tricably linked. Use this practice to recover your innermost knowledge of that linkage, dissolve barriers you have been uphold- ing, and genuinely awaken to how con- nected we all are. Sharon Salzberg has been teaching meditation for over 40 years. She is author most recently of Love Your Enemies and Real Happiness at Work. 1 Begin with someone who has helped you; maybe they’ve been directly gener- ous or kind, or have inspired you though you’ve never met them. When you think of them, they make you smile. Bring an image of the person to mind, or feel their presence as if they’re right in front of you. Say their name to yourself, and silently offer these phrases to them, focus- ing on one phrase at a time. • May you live in safety. • May you have mental hap- piness (peace, joy). • May you have physical happiness (health, freedom from pain). • May you live with ease. Don’t struggle to fabricate a feeling or sentiment. If your mind wanders, simply begin again. 2 After a few minutes, move on to a friend. Star t with a friend who’s doing well right now, then switch to someone who is experiencing difficulty, loss, pain, or unhappiness. 3 Offer loving-kindness to a neutral person, who you don’t feel a strong liking or disliking for: a cashier at the supermarket, a bank teller, a dry cleaner. When you offer loving-kindness to a neutral person, you are offering it to them simply because they exist—you are not indebted to or challenged by them. 4 Offer loving-kindness toward a person with whom you have difficulty. Star t with someone mildly dif- ficult, and slowly work toward someone who has hur t you more grievously. It’s common to feel resent- ment and anger, and it’s impor tant not to judge your- self for that. Rather, recognize that anger burns within your heart and causes suffering, so out of the greatest respect and compassion for yourself, practice letting go and offer- ing loving-kindness. 5 Finish by offering loving- kindness to anyone who comes to mind—people, animals, those whom you like, those whom you don’t, in an adventurous expanse of your own power of kindness. ● practices techniques Illustration by Jason Lee