Image showing the hand gesture called Anjali mudra, prayer pose

Loving kindness

At the beginning of 2020, I took on a powerful resolution: I would do a daily loving kindness meditation. I love this practice as a way of healing not just me, but all beings and the planet too. It’s a way of expanding the field of love and kindness on the planet. Never was it a more necessary practice than right now.

I discovered the value of this practice when my husband and I were travelling around Australia with our camper. Over five months of periodic cold and rainy weather, I was often unable to do my physical yoga practice. Fortunately, I had a collection of meditation recordings for the trip. I ended up following these daily, rain or shine.

Have you ever been camping with your spouse and other family members? Then you know that being in close quarters 24/7 will tax you, body, mind and spirit.

I won’t say that my daily practice turned me into a perfect travelling companion. But something shifted that helped me not take things so personally. I became more detached from comments that I might have misinterpreted. Petty power struggles about the best way to unpack or pack up became fewer.

What might have been an unpleasant trip instead became the time of our lives.

You’d think I would have embraced loving kindness forever after having such a positive experience. Being human though, when I returned home, I hit the ground running. I almost abandoned my loving kindness practice.

I began the practice again early last year as I experienced heightened concerns about the climate crisis. I thought we’d experienced the worst with Australia’s drought and bushfire disasters.

But now, we are facing a global pandemic.

‘Now normal’––prolonged uncertainty

Our collective anxiety levels have been seriously ratcheted up by the threat of COVID-19. The word ‘unprecedented’, which was applied to the drought and bushfires of 2019, is an easy fit for our current emotional reactions. This quote is from the ABC: ‘Anxiety is a normal, natural response to an unprecedented threat of illness, stress, and restricted life.’

Another mot du jour is ‘uncertainty’. Most of us have not lived through such perilously uncertain times. We crave having the old normal return or speculate on what the new normal will bring.

But the truth is that there never was a time of normalcy. Buddha understood this and made impermanence one of the fundamental concepts of Buddhism.

Wikipedia describes the impermanence of life:

‘All temporal things, whether material or mental, are compounded objects in a continuous change of condition, subject to decline and destruction.’

This basic belief asks us to step up to the reality that we need to deal with life as it presents, even when it is being fired point blank at us.

In a recent article in The Irish Times, Dr Maureen Gaffney, a clinical psychologist, offers some inspiration for the dilemma we are in. She suggests that we are asking the wrong question: when is this crisis going to end? She writes:

The question is how we are going to keep going. All we have before us now, and for a long time to come, is the “now normal”, a prolonged period of uncertainty.

A tool for you

The time is ripe for meditation, for learning to live in the now. Loving kindness meditation is a perfect practice for our times as it helps not just us as individuals but all beings.

Here’s a YouTube loving kindness practice that we created to help in these uncertain times. It is my wish that it will launch you into a regular loving kindness practice.