Love and Happiness (Meditation Series Part V) Wed, Aug 19, 2015
There are two major "traditional" meditation practices. The first is Mindfulness Meditation, also known as Mindfulness of the Breath, which we have already gone over. The second practice, and in my opinion the more difficult one, is Loving-Kindness Meditation.
Most of you have read The Happiness Advantage. In it, the author lays out some concrete actions you can take to cultivate happiness in your life. This requires a change in perception regarding what happiness is. It's not just a mood or a feeling that strikes you. It's a state of mind that requires effort to establish and maintain. It is similar with the Loving-Kindness practice. It directs you to systematically develop loving acceptance of yourself, followed by someone you love, followed by someone you are neutral towards, followed by someone that you hate. If you're anything like me, you started reading that previous sentence nodding along and then finished it frowning or confused. "Love and accept the person I hate? Why do you bring this lukewarm 'you just gotta love everyone, maaaan' tripe into our beautiful Loop?"
Well, I did say it would be more difficult. This practice begins with acceptance of the self (which isn't easy) and moves on to acceptance of others (which can be even harder!). The end goal here is to break down the barriers between yourself and other people, since meaningful connections are built around a certain level of acceptance and understanding. Again, this is about building patterns and habits. The more frequently you exercise your mind to hate and reject, the easier it becomes to hate and reject in the future. Thus, it benefits you deeply to supplant hatred with loving-kindness, cementing it as your "default setting." I'll be going over a few tips for how to do this in the next Loop. Stay tuned!