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  • SuePattonThoele

Giving Unconditional Kindness

Kindness is not optional if we are to honor and embody feminine energy and, by doing so, help bring balance and harmony to our seriously lop-sided world. Kindness is especially important in relationships because, in them, imperfections, illusions, delusions, and denials are burned away, and we are purified and made stronger. I refer to relationship as a kiln because, like pottery, which is made beautiful and serviceable in the intense heat of a kiln, the same is true for us within the intensity of relationship. Since we’re all in the relationship fire together, wouldn’t it be smart to invite kindness to join us? No matter how satisfying or unsatisfying any relationship is in the present moment, at the very least, kindness can elevate the energy. Kindness is possible in most situations and using it sets an intention toward love and growth.

In Theravada Buddhism, metta—which translates to loving-kindness—is a meditation focused on the development of unconditional love for all beings. While we may not achieve unconditional love for all beings, with intention and a little effort, we can get close to it in our relationships. To me, loving-kindness (or metta, if you prefer) doesn’t feel warm and fuzzy all the time; sometimes it is merely wishing myself or another person well. A simple metta prayer for myself might be “May I be peaceful. May I be well. May I feel loved and loving.” If I were about to engage in a possibly difficult talk with my husband, my prayer might be “May I be able to listen well. May I come to understanding. May I be kind.” In the same situation, my metta prayer, or wish, for him could be “May you be peaceful. May you be calm. May you come to understanding.”

Before learning about metta, my pre-serious-talk “prayers” were more along the lines of “May you see how wrong you are” or “Hopefully, you’ll actually listen!” Surprisingly enough, serious talks seem to go better than they used to.... Kindness softens hard edges, adds value, and imparts positive juju to most circumstances.

During your day...

  • Give yourself a little loving-kindness by putting your own well wishes into the following phrase: “May I be___________. May I___________. May I___________.”

  • Choose one loved one for whom to do a loving- kindness prayer.

  • Choose one less-than-loved-one for whom to do the same.

  • Do one small act of kindness for yourself and one for someone else.

Be kind whenever possible.

It is always possible.

—Dalai Lama

Excerpted from The Woman's Book of Strength by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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