In The Name Of Loving-Kindness

Loving-kindness is showing me that I am lovable and I am capable of loving. I am learning that it is easy to ignore self-compassion. I am learning the difference between selfishness and selfish-necessity. If I am to honor others, I must acknowledge myself. Loving-Kindness meditation, LKM, involves directing an attitude of safety, ease, health, and happiness to oneself and others. I have practiced LKM primarily in class. Formal sitting practices have been challenging albeit encouraging. I still maintain a tradition of body-scanning and vipassana, but LKM is predominantly informal. "Kindness is the fruition of awareness, and awareness is the foundation of kindness." (Germer, 2014, pg. 132)

I am discovering what it means to show up and listen to what is in my heart and body. I quite often am swept away by the mind's chorus. Loving Kindness fosters a sense of gentleness and compassion. I am becoming subtly aware of how I express and feel pain. Pain is pervasive. Physical, emotional, and psychological woundings are acknowledged. I am noticing that my body systems either relax gently or become wound tightly. Awareness at this moment highlights the English language's parody; a reflection; is my winding from wounding? There is an interoceptive investigation. Heat, chills, space, density. Paired with this internal discovery are curiosity and a refresher course in anatomy and physiology. I wonder how the medical field would transform if each learned ligament, tissue, and cell type were offered, "May you be safe, happy, healthy, and at ease."

Loving Kindness practice is serving a variety of functions. The energetic qualities operate in a push-pull dynamic. I am pushed and pulled, I lean into and withdrawal. I am experimenting with past, present, and future stories. This radical act of self-care is bringing peace, but it is not without its recoil. Backdraft; an occasional dimorphic expression occurs. I have thrust away from the gates of knowledge. Cast asunder, downtrodden and cyclically critical, my efforts to love myself rebound. I know all too well the paths to destruction. I am quite familiar with the echoes of destructive self-talk. I am discovering the readiness of spirit to cling to the negative. Enthusiasm must be met with temperance. There is a cascade of events: aversion curiosity, tolerance, allowing, friendship. (Germer, 2014, pg. 28)

I am relating the topical quality of loving-kindness. This soothing salve is a limitless resource. As I consider friends, families, and familiar faces, I give them a dose. If nothing else, I am expanding my capacity to be patient and loving. Recently, I begin my session with a client by offering them the four phrases: "May you be safe; May you be happy; May you be healthy; May you live with ease"(Germer, 2014, pg. 169).

Occasionally, I find myself becoming carried away with LKM offering peace, courage, wisdom, and strength. Though I have yet to express these sentiments to my clients verbally, my heart and guiding narrative remain strong. I believe that this ritual will help me manage compassion fatigue, decrease burnout, and provide active self-care. As Germer notes, "When we recognize within ourselves the instinct for self-care, we're more inclined to see it in others and to work for their welfare as well."(2014, pg. 132). As a mentor, consultant, and counselor I must model and demonstrate. I am choosing to demonstrate compassion and model integrity.

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