Feeling Fear? Lovingkindness – A Path to Healing
In an earlier blog I explored the importance of letting down the mask that almost all of us put up in order to keep uncomfortable feelings at bay. I laid out a short process on how to acknowledge the mask and begin to let it down. However, often times in this process there is so much fear that it is difficult to even see the mask or begin to let it down. This is where Lovingkindness comes in.
Lovingkindness practice has been called the healer of fear. While many know this process as metta practice from Buddhist philosophy, the art of lovingkindness has been found in many traditions from the Greeks coining the term Agape to the Jews practicing Chesed. However, the metta practice lays a practice that is easy to convey and millions of people have found supportive in cultivating more kindness to themselves, their community, and the world. For our purposes, we’ll just begin with ourselves and another.
Note: Notice if any judgments arise, “this can’t help me”, “I’ve tried this once in the past, or something like it, forget it”, or “This sounds woo-woo”. Just be aware of these judgments as strong habits of the mind trying to keep the status quo. Then gently bring you attention back to this practice.
In this practice we are cultivating wishes or aspirations for ourselves. This is not an affirmation practice, we are not telling ourselves that we something that is not there at the moment, we are simply wishing ourselves to be happy, healthy, free from harm, and free from fear. You can come up with your own wishes for yourself, but these should be things you can also wish to others.
So take a seat, feel into your body, and just notice how you are doing in this moment, physically and emotionally. Then repeat these phrases a few times to yourself with real intention.
May I be safe & protected from inner & outer harm.
May I be truly happy and deeply peaceful.
May I live my life with ease.
May I have love and compassion for myself.
May I love myself completely – just the way I am.
May I be free.
Then begin to picture someone who you care about, picturing them sitting there with you. This could also be an animal. Then repeat these phrases to them.
As you’re doing this, notice any feelings that are coming up in you, acknowledge them, and just let them be.
Without holding the goal of melting the mask, allow this to be a practice to support you in creating more kindness within you to support you in melting the fear of this mask little by little.
As always, please share your thoughts, questions, and stories below. Your interactions here provide a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
Goldstein, E. (2009). Feeling Fear? Lovingkindness – A Path to Healing. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 4, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2009/05/feeling-fear-lovingkindness-a-path-to-healing/