"When we feel love and kindness toward others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also develop inner happiness and peace."
-Dalai Lama XIV
Expressing love whether through words or action is ultimately at the heart of living in the present moment with others. Loving everyone without reservations, deep listening, spending time with our loved ones and being present mentally and physically are all examples of loving kindness. When we act with loving-kindness we bring joy to ourselves and to those around us which brings more goodness and light into the world.
Loving everyone without reservation is calling on loving emotions, which are valuable expressions and experiences of human life. The truth is that when we offer our regard to others then relationships are strengthened and made more beautiful and powerful. It is up to us, in any moment, to give love. Dr. River Smith, in his striking book A Conspiracy to Love, succinctly says, "We don't find love by seeking it; we find love by giving it." When we give love, let's choose to give it unconditionally.
Having unconditional love starts with having respect for oneself. By respect, naturally, I don't mean being impressed by our own title, status, position, or appearance. I mean honoring our inner divine being. We must first love and respect ourselves before we can truly give love and respect to our neighbors. To do this, we first have to get out of the habit of focusing on shortcomings and get into the habit of giving positive qualities more attention.
To build self-love and overcome low self-esteem is to change how we feel emotionally about ourselves. To change our emotion requires changing two different core beliefs about self-image. The first core belief that hinders self-love is a false belief that we are not good enough. The second false core belief is that we are not who we should be. We can have self-love and self-respect if we know that we are good enough to do what we are meant to do. We can in any moment decide who we want to be and take action. If we choose to be more loving, we can start with loving-kindness.
I've learned that one way to practice loving-kindness toward myself is to incorporate a practice of meditation into my life. Practicing meditation is a nice way of becoming aware of love for ourselves and others. Loving-kindness meditation has been practiced for many years in the East and more recently in the West. The meditation is simple during which we are directing kindness, generosity, benevolence, or positive emotions towards ourselves and towards others.
I practice this meditation by starting first with directing my love for myself and my family members one by one and then expanding it towards my friends, colleagues and neighbors. After every meditation, I feel a surge of positive energy, a sense of gratitude and a feeling of genuine kindness and love towards everyone that I might run into that day. Another benefit I've noticed is that my attitude would also be different towards those I had disagreed with in the past.
This loving act of meditation is one way for us to be present. It is a way to change our feelings about ourselves, and expand our feelings of kindness and unconditional love. As we are able to bring loving-kindness into more and more of our life, we are bringing more loving-kindness into the lives of others, and that's one way we can spread goodness and light.
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