Saturday, January 28, 2017

Loving-Kindness and Painting Meditations, 1.28.17

I've written about meditation before here in this space, but I've delved into it a little more deeply over the past few months, so I thought I'd share a couple of those ideas in this post.

This first one has made a huge difference for me lately. Several months ago, I began seeing a Life Balance counselor who taught me, what she called, a Loving-Kindness Meditation. It's simple to do, doesn't take much time and really does make you feel more loving and more kind. If you are having negative feelings toward any one, or about anything in particular (and I know most of can relate to that, especially this past week!), I highly suggest trying it.   Here's how it works:

First, find a nice, quiet spot with space just to sit cross-legged (or as Peanut says "criss-cross applesauce") on the floor. This is really all you need, but sometimes I like to be more ceremonial about it and light a candle and turn on some kind of meditative music. I prefer to do this in the morning, so I can feel like I started my day off on a positive note, but the time of day doesn't really matter.

Okay, first, imagine what loving kindness looks like to you- visually. Picture it in whatever way feels right to you. For me, it felt right to imagine a huge cocoon of love and light. Now, reflect on yourself being wrapped up in all of the love and light that you can imagine., inside of that cocoon. Stay with that thought for a bit.

Next, think of someone (or a group of people) who is extremely deserving of your loving kindness and picture yourself wrapping that same love and light around them.

Next,  imagine that same thing for every person in the world. I know it's kind of hard to imagine the entire world at once, but to make this easier, I pictured the Coke commercial from the 70's. ;)  (Link is below, if you are too young to remember it or you don't watch Mad Men!). But you can imagine it in any way that seems fitting to you.

After you reflect on the world being wrapped in love and light, finally, imagine sending and wrapping that same loving kindness cocoon around the person (or group of people) you believe is least deserving of it.  Simply imagining that you are wrapping someone you have issues with, in light and love, tends to soften those hard feelings and makes it easier to let go of some of the negativity surrounding them or the difficult situation.

I have done this almost every, single morning for the past several months. While it hasn't changed my current, difficult situation, it has certainly made me feel more loving and more kind to all of the people I share my life with on a daily basis. It has made me more aware of how my words and actions affect other people and how their words and actions affect me. And I am no longer willing to accept negativity being brought into my life and I won't be the cause of negativity in someone else's life. Needless to say, positive thinking is pretty powerful, right?!

The second meditation is not your typical idea of "meditation", but lately, I've been inspired by these addictive, meditative instagram videos and this post on the Cozy Things blog.  It seemed like a different, more creative approach to those adult coloring books that are so trendy right now.  So I broke out my painting box and have been keeping it next to the couch, along with some small canvas boards and scraps of watercolor paper,  so it will be easy to finish a quick painting in the amount of time it takes to watch a movie, wait for the meatloaf to bake, listen to a podcast, etc.  Sometimes I'll use a photo reference, sometimes it's just an abstract, watercolor and Sharpie piece- completely unplanned, unstructured and stress free with no expectations of the outcome.

My painting box (a gift from my step-daughter several years ago) has become one of my favorite things.

Abstract watercolor and Sharpie

Watercolor pencils and Sharpie

Bird. Acrylic paint on 5 x 7 canvas board. Two days after I posted this painting on Facebook, I read this, again on Cozy Things.  Funny! We both must have had birds on our minds that weekend.

I hope this helps someone out there deal with the stress, anger and anxiety that seems to be so prevalent lately. And, I hope you are at least trying to have a great, stress-free, weekend!  Juli

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