Recently I listened to this awesome podcast by Shamash Alidina on Kindfulness on the Insight Timer App. If you don’t yet have this free app, I highly recommend it. It includes thousands of free meditations, music, podcasts, and a timer.
If you haven’t heard of “ kindfulness” yet, it’s obviously a combination of mindfulness and kindness. Ajahn Brahm’s book
is devoted entirely to this concept. (It’s on my book list, but I have not read this one yet). What really resonated with me from the podcast with Alidina that I think is super helpful to those just starting a meditation practice is understanding to start with self-kindness first.
“If you start a mindfulness practice without self-kindness first you are more likely to let go of the practice very quickly. How kind we are to others is a reflection of our internal state. If we cannot offer kindness to ourselves, it will be very difficult for us to offer this to others.”
Think about that mean co-worker you work with who always seem unpleasant or that family member who always pushes your buttons. You might hear yourself saying, well why are they always so mean to me. Before getting frustrated with them (and trust me I do know how hard this can be!), take yourself out of the equation. So instead of focusing on the emotion that this person brings out in you, maybe think about why they are not able to offer kindness to you. Likely, they are not able to offer kindness to themselves. This leaves them unable to offer this to others; it’s a skill they don’t possess.
If you deal with a lot of this, try a Lovingkindness meditation to get your compassion flowing. While you may not change the other person, and I would suggest that this not even be your goal, you can control your response to the person. This is the power of meditation. It really helps us keep our emotions in check. Through learning meditation, you learn to pause at the right moments. This can truly free you.