Sunday, December 4, 2011

Extreme Loving Kindness Practice

There is a reason why loving kindness of one's enemies is left for last by all who teach loving kindness. It is easy to love dear ones, or the sick, or the old, or the dying, or the generic all encompassing 'all beings'. It is another matter to practice loving kindness towards a person who has done you wrong, one for whom feelings of anger and spite are still brewing within the heart. 

Lately my mind has been populated with thoughts about one who has hurt me and many others. I have watched the many movies in my mind about him, and things he has done, and the wrong acts I imagine him perpetuating still. I do not like those movies. I want to change the channel, and I realize that besides sitting and waiting for the thoughts to dissolve under the laser beam of mindfulness, I ought to make use of another more active practice. I call it extreme loving kindness practice. A blend of good intentions, mindfulness, concentration, and investigation. 

Sitting, I give the mind a chance to watch the mind unleashed, and its effects on my whole being. I get to see anger, outrage, and fantasies of revenge do their work. Breath squished, stomach knotting, throat and neck tensing, temperature rising . . . and an overall unpleasantness. All brought upon myself. This does not make sense, and I love myself too much to keep it going. Mind gets tired of the same old, bad story. From there, it becomes easy to entertain a new train of thoughts. "May you be at peace, may you be at ease. May you be well, may you be happy." I see my 'friend' and I feel great compassion for his unconsciousness, and I sincerely wish him to become free from his own private hell. Meanwhile, body (my own) starts relaxing, and the mind also. And the energy previously tied up in anger gets freed up for all the good work I need to do. 

Extreme loving kindness, such a practical and beautiful practice. 


  1. So good. So needed... Thank you.

  2. Such a timely post as I too, have someone in my life, a lot like your 'friend'. I have been told by priests to forgive them, but I can't. I have been told by others (including their own family) to walk away from them- can't do that either. Instead, I have come to a place in life, where I am no longer surprised by the things they do, the lies they tell, the stones they throw inflicting pain...

    I have however put those stones to use and built the wall that has come between us. Not once have they attempted to climb, go around or tear down that wall. Instead I have reached an understanding. Their actions are not mine to own. I will not have to pay for what they have done on judgement day. For once, I am comfortable in my own thoughts again. They alone can change their path, not us.

  3. Yes, and we are fortunate to not live in their bodies, and their minds. Feeling compassion for the ones stuck in their own hell. That they may be at peace, one day.

  4. Hi Marguerite,
    Gee, it seems like most of us know somebody like this. For me, it is my ex and our daughter who are, at the moment, not communicating with me and not telling me why. Silence can be so hurtful because like that movie in your mind it is so easy to imagine why they aren't speaking to me. So, I am hurt, frustrated, angry and I also care deeply about them. I have been studying lovingkindness too, but still a novice. I don't know when I'll be ready to extend lovingkindness to them. Some days I am, some days I am definitely not. Good luck with your "friend."

  5. Dear Angela, my heart goes out to you. This seems so painful. I think it is important to not rush the loving kindness towards those who are hurting you. It will come in its own time. Meanwhile, do extend it to yourself, and it is hard to come by, envelope the hard edges with love and kindness. As one of my teachers said, you don't have to feel loving and kind. Just practice it in your mind at first. And one day, it will seep through into your heart, so much so that all the harshness will dissolve, eventually.