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Lions Roar : September 2017
preconceived internal storyline. Our vision is clouded and we can only take in what feeds into our plot line. One way to begin to soften this kind of pattern is by exploring some basic steps that can lead us in the direction of kindness. Instead of trying to will ourselves to be kind— presto! all at once—we can create an atmosphere congenial to the development of loving-kindness. The following are five small steps you can practice that may be helpful in this regard: 1. Settle Down There has to be a here to be a there, and a connection between the two. So the first step is to slow down and let your mind settle enough that you are able to drop from the heights of conceptuality back into your body, a simple form in space. Can you really feel present in your body as it is, right where you are? 2. Be in the Moment Now that you are more solidly somewhere, you can let your- self be more clearly sometime. When your thoughts drift from the past or the future, from memories and regrets to plans and dreams, you can gently bring yourself back to the present moment. 3. Drop Escape Routes Stay put in this particular place and time, just the way it is. 4. Pay Attention to Space Notice the quality of space within you and around you. Pay atten- tion to the boundaries of your physical body and the space in front, behind, and on each side of you. Also pay attention to the mental–emotional space that accommodates the comings and goings of sensations, thoughts, moods, and emotional upheav- als. With whatever arises in your perception, on an outer or inner level, notice the space in which both you and your perception rest. 5. Share the Space Explore what it is like to share this quality of space with whatever or whoever is there with you. Notice the power of accommodation, acceptance, and nonjudging. When you sense the arising of territo- riality and fear, accommodate that too in greater spaciousness. You can explore these steps singularly or in combination, it is up to you. The idea is that if you create the right atmosphere, compassion naturally arises. It is already present, just waiting for your invitation. ♦ JUDY LIEF is a Buddhist teacher and author of Making Friends with Death. LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2017 53