1 May 2013
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How might we go about our work day with love?
First, I want to define what I mean by love. I don’t mean romantic love. But I do mean what is shared in common between romantic love, family love, love of a good friend, and so on.
For me love has an openness towards others which allows me to be moved and touched by another’s situation. I might be moved to happiness by another’s excitement because he gained a promotion. I might be moved to sadness by another’s frustration and unhappiness that her role has been made redundant. And by love I also mean I allow my empathetic response to the other person’s emotions to influence how I interact with that person. I might smile and congratulate the person who gets the promotion and talk with them about what work they hope to do now. To the person whose role has been made redundant I might ask how they are doing, if they want to meet up after work and talk through what they want to do next.
This attitude is embodied in the Loving Kindness meditation I lead regularly in a workshop at Audrey Page and Associates.
The meditation goes like this.
You sit still for a while, noticing the contact of your body with the chair, your feet on the floor, your hands in your lap. You close your eyes and notice your breath coming and going. You enjoy the sense of stillness as you become present to what you experience through your senses, right now. Sitting, hands on lap, breathing…
Then you silently say to yourself “May I be well, may I be happy, may I be free.” And you keep saying that for a few breaths - maybe ten breaths. You feel this good wish for yourself in your heart - the warmth of it.
Second, you bring a good friend to mind. And you say "May they be well, may they be happy, may they be free." Again, you feel these wishes of wellbeing in the warmth of your heart.
Third, you bring to mind someone you don't know all that well. Might be someone who lives in your street who you barely know. It's someone about whom you don't have any particularly strong feeling of liking or disliking. And you hold this person in your mind, and you say "May they be well, may they be happy, may they be free." Again, you connect with that feeling of warmth on your heart.
Fourth, you bring to mind someone you dislike. This is an interesting one, because often a person will flash through your mind, and the very next thought is "no, not that person." You can then choose. Perhaps you do choose that person, or perhaps thinking of that person is just too uncomfortable, in which case choose someone else. And just as before, you say "May they be well, may they be happy, may they be free." See the common humanity you share with this person, rather than the words or actions that cause you to dislike them.
And lastly, bring to mind someone you love. Might be your husband, wife, partner, parent, child… And just as before, "May they be well, may they be happy, may they be free."
Try it out, perhaps while you sit on the bus or wait for an appointment. See what happens. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer them. If you want other meditations like this, look here.
With love, Stephen