by Ed and Deb Shapiro: When we don’t like someone, the feeling sticks to us like glue. We get hooked, thoughts of the person come thick and fast,
and feelings of dislike, resentment, anger or irritation are like ghosts constantly haunting us. And these unpleasant thoughts build up inside, creating havoc. All the negative reactions that arise during moments of discord or disagreement cause great suffering and anguish, but it is our own anger that does us more emotional harm than someone else’s words.
The reality is, we are little more than a chemistry set. All our thoughts and feelings get translated into chemicals that fire off throughout our body, altering the chemical composition and behavior of our cells. Hence, a sad feeling will influence the cells of our tear ducts and make them produce tears, or a scary feeling will give us goose bumps or make our hair stand on end.
“A basic emotion such as fear can be described as an abstract feeling or as a tangible molecule of the hormone adrenaline,” writes Deepak Chopra in Ageless Body, Timeless Mind. “Without the feeling there is no hormone; without the hormone there is no feeling … wherever thought goes, a chemical goes with it.”
Alternatively, imagine your mind is like a beautiful garden. If you let a pig in your garden you will have a hard time getting it out, as pigs really like tasty gardens! In the same way, negativity is like a pig that gets in your garden and runs amok.
So how to transform our garden full of weeds and marauding pigs into one of sweet-scented flowers? Qualities such as kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are the seeds we want to plant to cultivate a beautiful garden. But the self-centered ego’s need for grasping, gaining, and selfishness easily buries them. We are all capable of losing our cool, getting caught up in hot emotions and causing harm. When we only focus on our own concerns and problems we become too self-engrossed to really acknowledge anyone else’s issues. These are the weeds we need to pull up, as are moments of closed-heartedness or anger, self-doubt and insecurity. We can bring mercy and tenderness to those places, to the wounded parts, so the fight within us can end.
Meditation is the key in this. In fact, kindness and compassion are such clear outcomes of meditation that research shows how meditation stimulates the circuits in the brain associated with contentment, happiness and the feel-good factor. “By training the mind, we can actually change the brain toward greater contentment,” says Dr. Davidson in our book, Be The Change. “There is certainly evidence to show that meditation practices designed to cultivate compassion and loving kindness change the brain in many positive ways.”
By embracing ourselves with kindness, we are strengthening and reinforcing feelings of self-empowerment, worthiness, and personal value. Sending kindness to our adversary enables us to releases any conflict. This is like turning compost into roses.
Try this Loving Kindness meditation to clear your mind of unwanted weeds.
Settle your body in an upright and seated posture. Take a few minutes to focus on the natural flow of your breath, while bringing your attention to the heart space in the center of your chest. Spend a few minutes on each stage of this practice.
1. Now either repeat your name or visualize yourself in your heart so that you can feel your presence. Hold yourself there, gently and tenderly. Release any tension on the out-breath and breathe in softness and openness with the in-breath. Silently repeat: “May I be well, may I be happy, may I be filled with loving kindness.” Feel a growing sense of loving kindness and compassion for yourself.
2. Now direct your loving kindness toward the person you are having a hard time with, whoever it may be. Keep breathing out any resistance and breathing in openness, as you hold this person in your heart and repeat: “May you be well, may you be happy, may you be filled with loving kindness.” No need to get caught up in recalling the details of the story. Hold them gently and tenderly, wishing them wellness and happiness.
3. Now expand your loving kindness outward toward all people, in all directions, whoever they may be, silently repeating: “May all beings be well, may all beings be happy, may all beings be filled with loving kindness.” Feel loving kindness radiating out from you in all directions. Breathe in kindness, breathe out kindness.
When you are ready, take a deep breath and gently open your eyes, letting the kindness in your heart put a smile on your lips.