While it’s a nice ideal, unfortunately, not everyone we meet is going to be someone that we get along with. Different opinions, values, goals, and feelings can lead to heated arguments and what can quickly become an emotional tug-of-war. As a result, defensiveness, negativity, and hurt feelings ensue, which can in turn close the heart of even the most well grounded and intended person.
So what’s a person to do? Well, expecting not to encounter some form of negativity in this life is pointless and frankly, kind of unrealistic. That said, learning to disengage from the negativity through practices like meditation not only can help to diffuse the situation, but also work to softening one’s heart in a move toward acceptance.
Checkout this recent Care 2 post from Ed and Deb Shapiro on using meditation to unhook from the negativity in our lives. Important to remember is that when someone is hurting us it’s because they are in pain. Practicing a loving kindness meditation extends compassion to both self and others.
Loving Kindness Meditation: for times of difficulty
Spend a few minutes on each stage of this practice. Settle your body in an upright and seated posture. Take a few minutes to focus on the natural flow of your breath, while bringing your attention to the heart space in the center of your chest.
1. Now either repeat your name or visualize yourself in your heart so that you can feel your presence. Hold yourself there, gently and tenderly. Release any tension on the out-breath and breathe in softness and openness with the in-breath. Silently repeat: “May I be well, may I be happy, may I be filled with loving kindness.” Feel a growing sense of loving kindness and compassion for yourself.
2. Now direct your loving kindness toward the person you are having a hard time with, whoever it may be. Keep breathing out any resistance and breathing in openness, as you hold this person in your heart and repeat: “May you be well, may you be happy, may you be filled with loving kindness.” No need to get caught up in recalling the details of the story. Hold them gently and tenderly, wishing them wellness and happiness.
3. Now expand your loving kindness outward toward all people, in all directions, whoever they may be, silently repeating: “May all beings be well, may all beings be happy, may all beings be filled with loving kindness.” Feel loving kindness radiating out from you in all directions. Breathe in kindness, breathe out kindness.
When you are ready, take a deep breath and gently open your eyes, letting the kindness in your heart put a smile on your lips.
Read more about a loving kindness meditation here.