Mindfulness and Compassion

We are so fortunate to have a great mission here at the VA, working with folks that believe in providing the service to the veterans who’ve defended our country. This is a fantastic mission. We do this with compassion and passion for our work. This means a lot to us, and this is rewarding. So loving kindness practice is, uh, old meditation practice, just like focusing on the breath. So it has been around for thousands of years as well. And what we do here is we are using phrases, and we’re using phrases, and then we go through different categories. So, usually, we would start
with ourselves, sending friendly wishes
to ourselves, and then to a friend,
or we could switch those, so to a friend
or a loved one first, and then to ourselves. And then there are
more categories.All the phrases startwith “may you…” or “may I…”“May you be happy.”“May I be happy.”So it’s very important
not to get mixed up here with positive affirmations. Like, a positive affirmation
would start with, like, “I am happy,” or “you are happy.” And if this is not the case, it can sometimes be very hard. So, what we do is we wish this. So it’s a heartfelt wish for ourselvesor the people around us,because as you might hear ustalk about this, it might feel like, “Oh, God, this is so fake, and this is so not working for me.” And what’s really important is the intention makes it work. So you just repeat
those phrases, and with that, you will change
your neurocircuitry just by the repetition,
so it becomes more normal that you hear those words,
and so in a situation where you would usually
judge yourself or somebody else, it makes it more likely
that those words will come up. Working in my substance abuse
and homeless populations, I frequently hear laughter,
like, “What? “You want to turn us
into punks with this. You want us to be nice
or you want us to be marks.” And this is
quite different, right? So the idea isn’t
that you’re a pushover or that you’re a mark. The idea is how
you hold yourself with kindness.We all know, right,
the world is hard enough.
Life can be difficult enough.Do we need to beat ourselves up
in our own internal experience?
The last category
of loving kindness phrases
is “sending it outto all beings.” And I change this a little bit
to… to say,“and to all the men and women
who are in active duty
“in Iraq and Afghanistan,
right here, today,
“may you all be safe. “May you all come home. And may you all know peace.”This they feel,and from this moment, the beginnings, the kindling of compassion and care for another, you can come back to have them start to care for themselves again. The metaphor that I think
vets understand well is, you know, if you wantbig guns, what do you do?You start
with the little weights
and you keep working,
and what happens with the work
of the weightlifting,
the muscles respond and grow. If you want the ability,
the capacity to have more feel-good
and have moreexperiences of joy
and connectedness
and pleasure in your life,a loving kindness practice
is a great way to start. Captioned by
Media Access Group at WGBH

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