Why Kindness Makes Meditation Sustainable
As a lecturer and teacher of mindfulness, I often get asked the question, “How do I become consistent with meditation?” Or “How can I make it sustainable?” I love when people ask this, because it means that they are looking to go deeper with their meditation practice and that they care about the benefits meditation is providing for them. Though it is one the most frequent questions I receive, for this reason it is also one of my favorites. Because, then I get to share the set of teachings which not only dramatically deepened my meditation practice, but also made it that much easier to arrive to each day: Enter kindness. One of the most underrated yet essential parts of a real transformational meditation practice.
In my new book, Kindness Now: A 28-Day Guide To Living With Authenticity, Intention and Compassion, I share a systemic approach to learning the ways of kindness and what are known as the four heart qualities of mindfulness meditation (Loving-Kindness, Compassion, Appreciative Joy, and Equanimity). These qualities of the heart can broadly be umbrellaed under kindness practice, yet each holds their own unique energy. In simplest terms, it can be helpful to think of these four qualities of the heart as the kindfulness branch of mindfulness meditation. And here is why kindness or kindfulness is the very ingredient which makes meditation actually sustainable.
1 – Kindness makes our inner-world approachable. A common experience in meditation is getting to know yourself better, and sometimes a whole lot better. And to be frank – it can be alarming to become more aware of our thinking minds or habitual emotional reactions when our self-awareness grows through meditation! This is why many people don’t continue to meditate. They don’t know what to do with all the imperfection, self-judgment or uncomfortable feelings. They also haven’t learned how to make what it is they are aware of approachable and workable. Kindness is what allows us to do that. Kindness softens the sting of self-awareness and brings an inherent sense of understanding and non-judgment towards our inner worlds.
2- Kindness starts the composting process of self-discovery to self-insight. In Kindness Now, there is a major theme on why kindness is so helpful and essential in developing a consistent meditation practice. Which is kindfulness helps us metabolize what we unearth in meditation and turn it into self-insight and growth. For instance, recently I became aware of a long-time belief of mine that “I have to do it all myself, or it won’t get done or done correctly to my standards.” Being someone who always does the best that I can in anything that I do, I saw that I was having a very hard time trusting others who offered to help me with my work. When I was honest with myself about this limiting belief and brought this inner discovery to the mill of kindness and compassion. The tender warmth and understanding of kindfulness softened this old way of being just enough so I now give others the genuine chance to show up for me. Offer their support, take projects in the direction of their own vision and be generous with their intention to help me. What may have initially been too much to bear, if not met with kindness, turned into an opportunity for greater growth and insight. Which not only benefited me, but also those around me.
For more specific techniques on how to add kindness into your practice, check out my past articles here at emeranmayer.com, or check out my new book, Kindness Now – a whole book dedicated to the practice of kindfulness, which is what makes meditation truly sustainable.
Amanda Gilbert is a meditation teacher, speaker, lecturer of mindfulness at the University of Southern California and author. She has been a meditator for over seventeen years and now leads meditation for top companies like NBC, Paramount Pictures, W Hotels, Merrill Lynch, Macy’s, and YouTube.