Loving kindness is a lifestyle choice. Choosing to be friendly to you and being friendly to others is a choice. Every day, we make hundreds and sometimes thousands of choices that help create a reality we enjoy and/or complain about. Although knowledge and wisdom are related, they are not synonymous. In our living laboratories of loving kindness, experience is the invaluable prerequisite to acquiring wisdom. What we learn from experience provides us the wisdom to make a certain choice or try a particular thing. Over time, loving kindness becomes a choice-less choice. We no longer think loving kindness, we get to be loving kindness. It is a part of how we navigate through the world, how we treat others, and, most importantly, how we treat ourselves. Choosing loving kindness can be as easy as answering these two questions:
Throughout every session ask these two questions:
Does it feel good to receive? And does it feel good to give?
You know you are practicing loving kindness when your clients say it feels good to receive and when you are able to say it feels good to give. This simple noticing has and continues to revolutionize our practice and refuel our minds, bodies, and hearts. Not only do we use this line of questioning in sessions, but we also sprinkle it throughout our day: when booking appointments, making professional or personal agreements, deciding what to eat for dinner, or wondering how our bodies want to move or rest throughout the day. Being a living laboratory encourages us to regularly check in with ourselves to ask: “Does this next agreement, action step, or choice feel good—both in the doing and in the receiving?” If it doesn’t feel good, we stop it or change at least one thing. We are no longer giving until it hurts. We no longer sacrifice our bodies for a technique or for another person. This is simple and may be obvious. However, simplicity doesn’t mean it’s easy to forge a new habit of refusing to feel bad, especially if we’re used to compromising our own well-being for the sake of helping others. In fact, living loving kindness is the result of recommitting hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Imagine how you would feel if you took care of yourself in the same ways you take care of your clients. And, are you willing to give yourself the same quality of loving kindness that you so freely give to your clients, friends, and family? What is one thing you could be doing now that makes you feel better? Would you be willing to give that to yourself today and perhaps every day? This is choosing loving kindness.
“The Sacred is Simple” – Hugh Milne