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Lions Roar : January 2019
THE CULTIVATION OF METTA or loving-kindness is a classic Buddhist meditation practice. There are many methods of cultivating metta, but they all involve sending kindness out to others, either through visualiza- tion or the repetition of phrases. Traditionally you send kindness first to someone close to you, then to someone you don’t know well and have neutral feelings for, then to a difficult person or enemy, and, usually last, to all beings. It’s easy to practice kind- ness for someone you love, inspiring to practice for “all beings,” and difficult (if not impossible) to prac- tice for an enemy. And often, we consider it a little dull to practice for a neutral person. But to practice kindness for a neutral person in daily life, off the cushion, is very interesting. I prac- experiences, including our comfort, discomfort, and what we need to be okay. After that, we are able to direct that same empathy outward toward others. This empathy is full of kindness as it is a kind of attention that sees and holds the most tender parts of others. 3. Learn to set boundaries and communicate when it may difficult to be kind. We have peri- ods where extending kindness is particularly difficult. If you are with loved ones during one of these times, it is important to tell them that you need some extra space and that this space is important for you to care for yourself. You do this so as to prevent taking your discomfort out on them. Asking for space is an act of kindness. 4. Let go of the idea of being nice. Being nice can be superficial, as well as inauthentic and lazy, as we use niceness to manipulate others or bypass real feelings that need to be expressed. We must challenge ourselves into a deeper engagement around the expression of love for others. 5. Holding space is another important act of kindness. Holding space means that we allow our loved ones to show up as themselves. We are not reacting but listening compassionately and witnessing them without judging them or criti- cizing. Holding space is at the heart of our loved ones feeling seen and heard by us. Being kind to the people we love requires a will- ingness to prioritize their needs while making sure that we also have what we need, so that we can be kind. We must also practice receiving kindness just as we are practicing expressing kindness. The authentic and wise expression of kindness is trans- formative for those we love. LAMA ROD OWENS is the co- author of Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Liberation, and Love. Be Kind to NEUTRAL PEOPLE Neutral people are those we don’t notice or are indifferent toward. We learn a lot about ourselves when we try to practice kindness for them, says NORMAN FISCHER. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2019 51