Cultivating Loving-Kindness at Christmas By Pippa Goss
14 December 2021 | Pippa Goss
At Christmas, if we are lucky, we get to spend time with the people that we love, people that make us feel secure, safe, relaxed, and loved.
Sometimes, it is necessary to spend time with people who make us feel the opposite, and this can be tricky.
Modern Meditation coach Pippa tells us how to cope. You can also download Pippa’s specially prepared guided Modern Meditations below…
As many ancient traditions tell us, particularly Eastern philosophy, we are all deeply connected to one another and with meditation practice, we can cultivate positive and enjoyable mental states, even when faced with the trickiest of characters in stressful situations. It is as much about cultivating a positive, encouraging, and friendly mental state towards ourselves as it is towards other people.
To help us manage this time of the year, I have paired up two complimentary meditations, one ancient and the other modern. The first – the modern meditation – provides the skills and technique which we can then apply to the slightly longer, ancient practice and allow us to experience it more deeply.
So, in the first meditation practice, you are going to hone your skills of directing and holding your attention in four places at the same time – your hands and your feet – and as you do so, you will find your space of awareness expand and open.
Now that you have discovered how to focus and feel your attention, we are going to explore a loving-kindness meditation, which I hope you will find useful as the Christmas festivities unravel.
The Loving-Kindness meditation comes from the Buddhist tradition and its original name is metta-bhavana. This comes from the pali language, an ancient literary language in which Buddhist scriptures were written. ‘Metta’ means love, friendliness, or kindness and ‘bhavana’ means development or cultivation. So, metta-bhavana is often translated in English as ‘cultivation of loving-kindness’. Practicing a loving-kindness meditation regularly can be a useful tool to have in your kit and I started to notice a difference in my perceptions of people very quickly after practising it.
In this meditation, you will bring four different people into your field of awareness, one at a time before finally bringing them all together at the end. With each person, at each stage of the meditation, you will set a friendly and encouraging little intention for them that you can repeat:
May I / they be well
May I / they be safe
May I / they be happy
It is a good idea to decide which people you are going to share your loving-kindness with before you start this meditation.
The first one is going to be YOU, so that’s decided already. The second person will be someone that you love (but not in a romantic way) – a close friend or a family member perhaps. Decide who that will be. Thirdly, choose a ‘neutral’ person. This may be someone you see regularly but who you don’t know very well, or even by name. It could be a neighbour, someone you see in your local shop, the lollipop person, someone you don’t have any strong feelings for. Lastly, think of a person you find difficult or tricky to deal with. Health warning! If you are just starting out on this meditation for the first time, choose someone who isn’t a sworn enemy – these feelings may be very strong – just choose someone who is a bit difficult or pesky.
When you have decided on your people, we’re ready to go!Noe
How did it go? Did you change the person that you had decided on at the start halfway through? This is normal and can be quite illuminating! Did you find it difficult to send feelings of loving kindness towards yourself? Again, quite normal if you did.
We are all deeply connected to one another and inter-dependent and Christmas can highlight these connections, which can be joyful if we allow them to be. I will leave you with a little quote and some frivolous tips for surviving the festive season.
“From you I receive, to you I give. Together we share, by this we live.”
Six tips to help make Christmas happy…
- Accept ALL offers of help to peel potatoes, supply the booze, make a pudding. There are NO prizes for being God’s Gift to Domesticity and being kind to yourself will help you cultivate kindness towards others.
- Small talk: if you are at a social event, or just chatting to family, “how are you?” is a very big question. It’s a bit vague. Perhaps you could experiment with different openers: “what sort of a week have you had?” or “tell me about your day today?” is more specific and will probably lead to more of an interesting answer.
- If someone you are speaking to is dominating the conversation, or isn’t saying things to your liking, you can say to yourself “may you be well” or “may you be happy” and then quietly walk away if you can.
- Notice when you have been drawn into Expectation Mode. Christmas will never be “perfect” as it is in the songs and the films. Christmas just is. Go with the flow.
- Sit by the fire (or light a candle) with a glass of something nice after everyone has gone to bed, just watch it and give thanks.
- If you have a full house and you are feeling overwhelmed, take yourself off for ten minutes and meditate, or just sit quietly and read a book. No-one will miss you; I promise.
HAVE A VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
Pippa is a highly qualified singing specialist. She is an Accredited Singing Teacher having recently undertaken a rigorous and assessed training programme with Vocal Process https://vocalprocess.co.uk/ This has involved studying with leading singing teaching experts and voice researchers.
Pippa says ‘I am always learning and honing my skills as a teacher!’
Pippa has studied yoga and meditation with Mick Timpson for many years and became a beanddo accredited Modern Meditation coach in 2021