Day 26 of 30: Opening Your Heart
Like any other practice, you get good at what you do consistently. It takes intention, effort, and repetition.
A next step in your practice is a specific focus on opening your heart. What you will be doing today is a practice of manifesting warm feelings.
I recall the first time I did this practice: I felt like it was phony. These feelings are fake.
My teacher at the time said “Yes, you are ‘faking it’ at first. What is most important is generating the love and compassion. The more times you do it, the easier it gets.” I admit that it did not make a lot of sense to me at the time, but it sounded reasonable enough and I trusted my teacher enough that I continued on. Thank goodness I did …
You become what you think about repeatedly and what you do repeatedly … so let’s invest in a practice of loving.
Today’s practice is a traditional lovingkindness exercise in which you will wish someone well. Throughout this practice, what is most important is noticing how your heart feels during it. Does it feel like it is opening up? Cracking open slightly? Warm? Receptive? Or does it feel like it is behind a wall? Closed off? If this practice is new to you, please be patient and it may take more than one day of systematic practice to feel a change happening.
- Set your timer and practice calm focus meditation until you notice your concentration deepens.
- When you notice a shift into a more calm focused state, please direct your awareness to picturing someone who you love dearly. It could be anyone. It could be your romantic partner a child, a family member, or a pet. Picture them in your mind with as much detail as possible. Smile at them with your mind’s eye and see them return your gaze & your smile. Notice any feelings that arise. Do you notice your warm, loving feelings for them? If so, where do you feel them in your body? What do they feel like? What are the qualities of these feelings? Temperature? Movement? Weight? Something else?
- As you continue to picture them in your mind, silently wish them well. Some phrases I use are: “May you be happy. May you be safe. May you be healthy. May you feel loved and cared for.” Feel free to modify these phrases to make them your own. The words are not as important as your intention of wanting good things for them – ease, safety, comfort, connection, et cetera. Continue to repeat these phrases again and again directed toward them for several minutes, focusing some of your attention on your feelings behind these well wishes.
- When the timer goes off, return to resting your awareness on the felt sensations of your belly while breathing for a few breaths to conclude your practice today.
After today’s practice, the invitation is to reflect on what you noticed. Was it easy or challenging? Did it feel natural or forced? Was it easy to select someone for whom you had warm, loving feelings? Or do you relationships feel more complicated than that? Do you think that this practice may have benefits?
If you’d like, please offer what you learned in today’s lovingkindness practice by sharing in the comments below. Please raise awareness of this content by sharing it using the social media icons adjacent to it. Please reach out to me if I can support you.
See you tomorrow!
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