Like all of the qualities we cultivate through mindfulness, we need to start with compassion for ourselves. If you can't hold the space to practice loving kindness for yourself, you won't be able to practice it with others.
Compassion can be exhausting. When I work with healthcare providers one of the more popular practices is the loving kindness meditation. This makes perfect sense since healthcare providers lead the stats with suffering from compassion fatigue from caring for others. There are many of us caring for ailing parents, sick children, or dysfunctional teams at work that can also cause compassion fatigue. Since we have to be compassionate to ourselves first, we have to create boundaries and just say no
In our busy lives, we forget about how we can practice compassion in the simplest of ways. When you see someone holding up the security line at the airport because of their lack of travel experience or a driver obviously lost and going very slow, instead of getting frustrated and irritated, with dirty looks or honks, smile and say to yourself, just like me. We have all been there, running late, unprepared, lost or confused in our lives and saying just like me allows you to practice compassion for the person.
The Loving Kindness meditation uses words, images, and feelings to evoke a loving kindness and friendliness toward yourself and others. With each recitation of the phrases, you are expressing an intention, planting the seeds of loving wishes over and over in your heart.
Acts of kindness don't need to take a great deal of time or money. The next time you see a troubled coworker, greet them with a smile, let someone in a long grocery line who looks panicked go ahead of you, leave a kind note for someone as a thank you, or pay for the coffee of a stranger behind you at Starbuck's.
This therapeutic form of yoga uses props to support your body to relax and stretch passively. You can lay on the floor with your legs up the wall, forward bend with a pillow or blanket on your lap, or lay on your back with a bolster or rolled up blanket between your shoulder blades. Try each one for 5-10 minutes.
This practice of compassion with loving kindness will calm your mind and keep you connected to your loving heart. Bring to mind an interaction or situation with someone that made you feel badly, or you can do this in the moment when you start feeling badly.
Feel the stress and emotional discomfort in your body.
Say to yourself:
This is a moment of suffering.
Suffering is a part of life.
Now place your hands over your heart, feel the warmth and gentle touch of your hands and say:
Many I be free from suffering.