We all need to practice loving kindness.
Practicing mindfulness and teaching mindfulness to children has become an important part of many peoples lives these days. Numerous research articles are used to promote that practicing mindfulness improves wellbeing. However, usually in the actual article itself, the truth of the matter is that practicing mindfulness only produces short term improvements in wellbeing unless the practice also includes a loving kindness mediation. And when we think about that fact, its not hard to comprehend how being in the present moment isn’t always the answer to feeling better! Where as, developing and maintaining a loving heart truly is all we need to experience high levels of wellbeing.
Possessing a loving heart is more valuable than any amount of money and worth more than any precious metal. But what exactly is love? If we look to the Bible for the answer we see love described as a doing thing, or something that involves self-control:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
In our last session we meditated on the words, ‘I know how to love’. Although you may not have consciously contemplated what love is, you still were able to feel it, and truly know it, and connect with it. Why was that?
Personally, I think that love is the innate divine spark that is within us all. We are born with it. However, have another read through the first sentence of that Bible passage, but this time imagine you are describing a toddler, or a child aged 3 to 6 years: Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
You may be thinking that surly we are not born with it…children aren’t patient. Children have tantrums, they have emotional breakdowns, and often they don’t even like to share! However, if you back track one more time you will see that, in fact children, even young toddlers are perfectly described in the second sentence of that passage when it comes to the love they have for their primary carer: Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Therefore, since children already innately posses the ability to love it is our duty to ensure they don’t lose it and instead they develop it. We can accomplish this simply by nurturing what’s already there through being the best parents or care givers that we can be. Additionally, we should also teach them to routine practice loving kindness mediations, since this also helps them be the best children that they can be. In order to accomplish this task we should first practice ourselves.
Give yourself permission to use the next couple of minutes to practice right now!
Simply sit still and take a few slow deep breaths.
Go on – do it right now – it really will only take a couple of minutes. Feel your shoulders relaxed as you exhale. Now, using the positive affirmation coupled with a focus on maintaining your breathing pattern, as you exhale, you mentally affirm to yourself, ‘I was born to love’. Say it again in your mind, ‘I was born to love’, and just breath.
If other thoughts enter your mind – just let them pass through. Remember, this is not a time for self-analyzing – but only to remember or remind yourself that you were born to love. If pictures of those you love come to mind – just smile – once again don’t over think it by analyzing the state of your current relationship with that person. Just let the thoughts go and focus on the breath, the affirmation, and the feeling of love.
Say it again in your mind, ‘I was born to love’, and just breathe and relax.
Repeat this affirmation at least another 3 times as you sit quietly and just relax with your mind on your breath and feeling your loving heart.
Stop reading for 2 minutes while you do the exercise with your eyes closed!
How easy was that?
Try this technique out with your children. Find a time when you can have an uninterrupted moment alone with your child. Turn off the technology, or visit a nice garden, or just sit together in their room. You may even like to substitute a prayer time with this meditation one evening.
If you are a teacher try this short meditation with small groups of children.
If you haven’t read and experienced The Loving Kindness Series: Session 1. please make sure you find the time to do so.
Author: Elizabeth Mulhane
And if you are keen to improve the wellbeing within your family please sign up for our family orientated mindfulness course . This amazing 8 week online course was designed to help you improve yourself, your mind, your life and your families overall levels of wellbeing.
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Elizabeth Mulhane B.PsySc(Hons)