Summary of ‘Self-Friendliness’
The quality of loving-kindness is the fertile soil out of which an integrated spiritual life can grow. With a loving heart as a background, all that we attempt, all that we encounter will open and flow more easily. While loving-kindness can arise naturally in us in many circumstances, it can also be cultivate.
The following meditation is a 2,500-year-old practice that uses repeated phrases, images, and feelings to evoke loving-kindness and friendliness toward oneself and others. You can experiment with this practice to see if it is useful for you. It is best to begin by repeating it over and over for 15 to 20 minutes once or twice daily in a quiet place for several months.
At first this meditation may feel mechanical or awkward or even bring up the opposite, feelings of irritation and anger. If this happens, it is especially important to be patient and kind toward yourself, allowing whatever arises to be received in a spirit of friendliness and kind affection.
In its own time, even in the face of inner difficulties, the connectedness of loving-kindness will develop.
Sit in a comfortable fashion. Let your body relax and be at rest. As best you can, let the mind be quiet, letting go of the plans and the preoccupations. Then with the rhythm of the breath, recite inwardly the following phrases directed to yourself. Working with one or all the phrases, you begin with yourself, because without loving yourself it is almost impossible to love others.
- ‘may i be safe from inner and outer harm’
- ‘may i be happy and peaceful’
- ‘may i be healthy and strong’
- ‘may i be able to take care of myself’
As you say the phrases, you may also, picture yourself as a young beloved child, or sense yourself as you are now, held in the heart of loving-kindness. Let the feelings arise with the words. Adjust the words and images so that you find the exact phrase that best opens your heart of being your own best friend.
Repeat the phrases again and again, letting the feelings permeate your body and mind.
If the mind is dull speed up the phrases.
If the mind is anxious slow the phrase down.
If unpleasant feelings arise, as best you can just gently know them w/o judgments.
Allow the phrases to change on their own.
Make inquiries of the phases, what do the words personally mean for your you etc.
Practice this mediation repeatedly for a number of weeks until the feeling/sense of loving-kindness for your self grows.
When you feel ready, in the same meditation period you can gradually begin to include other: friends, neighbors, animals, the whole earth and all beings. Then you can experiment with including the most difficult people in your life, wishing they too, be filled with loving-kindness. With some practice a steady sense of connectedness can develop and in the course of 15 to 20 minutes you will be able to include many being in your meditation, moving from your self, to a benefactor and loved ones, to all being everywhere.
Then you can learn to practice it anywhere. As you silently practice this friendliness meditation among people, you will immediately feel a wonderful connection with them — the power of loving-kindness.
It will calm your life and keep you connected to Love.
source- A Path With Heart, by Jack Kornfield