This is a three-part series of blog posts around the use of Loving Kindness practice for forgiving someone who has hurt or harmed us.
The series comprises of the following sections:
- What is Loving Kindness
- Steps to practice Loving Kindness
- Categories of recipients of Loving Kindness Meditation
- What is forgiveness?
- Benefits of forgiveness
- Myths and Truths of Forgiveness
- Loving Kindness and Forgiveness
- Importance of Loving Kindness and Forgiveness during this stressful time
- Steps for performing Loving Kindness meditation for someone who has hurt or harmed us
- Guided meditation script for practicing Loving Kindness meditation for someone who has hurt or harmed us
What is Loving Kindness?
Loving Kindness is a quality of the heart that simply wishes well to all beings without seeking anything back in return. We innately possess this quality of the heart. For most of us, it gets obscured by layers and layers of conditioning by way of our past experiences. Loving Kindness meditation is the cultivation of a steady, unconditional sense of connection that touches all beings without exception, including ourselves. It is very important to know that we keep ourselves front and center during this practice. We are not sacrificing ourselves for the sake of others.
Steps for practicing Loving Kindness
We take the following steps to practice Loving Kindness. We first let our body settle in a comfortable sitting position. We relax the whole body. We keep our hands comfortably placed on the lap or on the knees. We then intentionally cultivate an attitude of patience, gentleness and kindness towards ourselves.
We allow our eyes to gently close and tune in to feeling of the breath flowing in and out of the body. We follow the breath as it comes in and goes out.
We then repeat some traditional phrases of loving kindness. The phrases I use consistently in my practice are the following. You are free to choose phrases that resonate well with you.
May I be happy
May I be peaceful
May I live with ease
May all beings be happy
May all beings be peaceful
May all beings live with ease
It is very helpful to synchronize the practice with our breath. While inhaling we say “May you <name> be”. While exhaling say “happy”. When we anchor this practice with our breath, it helps our minds stay focused.
Categories of recipients of Loving Kindness Meditation
There are four broad categories of recipients for Loving Kindness meditation.
- Loving Kindness for Loved Ones and Benefactors
- Loving Kindness for Oneself
- Loving Kindness for Neutral Persons
- Loving Kindness for someone who has hurt or harmed us.
In this blog post, I want to talk about the fourth category. Performing loving kindness for someone who has hurt or harmed us is extremely difficult. It goes against our conventional wisdom. We prefer for them to get punished. However, performing this practice for such recipients can provide the most benefits to us. We are essentially forgiving them for their trespasses against us. During this process, we can let go of extreme feelings of hurt, pain, resentment, guilt, anger and shame that keep us mired in the past. This is the link between the practice of Loving Kindness and the practice of forgiveness.
Loving Kindness provides a wonderful and effective framework for us to practice forgiveness. We need to remember that we deserve unconditional love, kindness and happiness just like all living beings. We choose to forgive someone who has hurt or harmed us because we love ourselves more.
It is very important to remember that we are not expected to excuse someone else’s behavior nor are we expected to reach out to them. This practice is for us to heal from adverse impact of experiences we suffered when we were hurt or harmed in the past by willful action of others.