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Showing yourself and others kindness is like turning compost into roses. Deb experienced this in a very personal way: "Many years ago, I was the administrator for an educational institute in Hawaii, and for some reason one of the teachers really had it in for me. No matter what I did, she disagreed and made me wrong. For administrative purposes, I had to be present at her classes, and, quite subtly, she soon turned all the participants against me. I realized she was triggering childhood memories of being ignored or disregarded, as I would shrink into a small, ineffective place when I was around her. It then emerged that I was going to have to go with her and the class to a remote cabin on another island for a one-week wilderness program. Not my idea of fun! The only option I had was to focus on her during my kindness meditation practice, which I did by holding her in a loving place within me every day for the few weeks before we left.
"By the time we got to the cabin, her attitude had begun to subtly change and she was no longer making me the cause of everything that went wrong. Over the first few days, she changed even more, every so often acknowledging me, but by the end of the week, she was actually including me along with everyone else, once even asking me for my opinion. The interesting thing was that she didn't seem to notice that anything was different. The whole of the class changed with her. I was astonished to watch it happen. The only thing I had done differently was kindness meditation, through which the hook inside me that she had been hanging all her judgment on had dissolved. She had nowhere to put her negativity; instead, it sort of fell on the floor between us. Eventually, it just slunk away, unable to find a home."
All the negative reactions that arise during moments of discord or disagreement can cause great suffering and anguish, but your own anger can do us even more emotional harm than someone else's words or actions. Extending kindness to others is, therefore, really extending it toward yourself as it leaves you in a gentler, more joyful place.
Try Ed and Deb's 3-step loving kindness meditation