A little loving kindness goes a long way

We celebrated Valentine’s Day in our usual ‘low key’ style. Whilst we were all at the market my husband bought me flowers. He was assisted by the toddler who did a quick spot check on various options to see how easily the petals and berries could be detached. Most, quite easily, it turned out and we may not be welcomed back by that particular florist.

My husband told me he, ‘didn’t think we were doing cards this year.’ I pretended not to notice a steely glare from the toddler, whom I had coerced into making not one but two Valentine’s cards, and was now looking somewhat irritated.

I read once about the ‘five languages of love’; a theory explaining the different ways people show affection. These include buying gifts, doing considerate things, being tactile and, um, other nice things (I didn’t actually read the book). I know now that exchanges like the following are probably highly representative of mine and my husband’s respective ‘love languages’:

Husband: I’ve unblocked the shower drain. It was full of your hair again.

Me: Thanks. I saved you the last chocolate.

Husband: So, you ate all the other chocolates?

Me: I love you.

Anyway, in keeping with the Valentine’s vibes I decided that this week would be a good one to try Hunter Clarke-Fields‘ short and sweet Loving Kindness Meditation (click the link for a quick ‘how to’).

I like this practice very much. I like it because it takes a few minutes and can be done literally anywhere. I recited it in my head on the bus, in the shower and whilst held under siege in a polyester play tent by the toddler. Every time I used it, it softened me, and when I extended it to include others I became more attuned to their perspectives and more aware of the many people who make up our little world, but that we don’t really know.

I wished ‘loving kindness’ for:

The lovely young French man in our local café who indulges the toddler’s earnest requests for a cappuccino, and her adorable habit of shoplifting baked goods.

The transvestite Thai hostess in our local BYO joint, who we suspect leaves the heating off in winter just so she can wear her fur coat indoors.

The lady who runs a music class we attend most weeks. She is quite upbeat and doesn’t seem in need of additional loving kindness, but I sure as hell would be if I had to make farm animal noises to a room full of grown women several times a day.

The florist.

The massively unhelpful man I spoke to about my tax return, after waiting in a call queue for 42 days and 42 nights. This was too much too soon. Patience, young grasshopper.

I will continue to use the Loving Kindness Meditation often; when I’m giving myself a hard time, when I’m vexed with others or when I simply want to redirect my focus to the wider world.

I suspect the lovely young French man in our local café now thinks I fancy him, but he’s probably used to it. The café’s demographic includes a large number of women around my age: the croissants are very good, but I think there may be more to it. Maybe I should send my loving kindness out to people from afar, rather than whilst gazing into their eyes and ordering a latte.

Next week the toddler and I will be trying out lion’s breath, a simple pranayama, or yogic breathing practice, with stress-relieving and face-stretching benefits.

The toddler likes lions very much and is also quite partial to sticking out her tongue, so I expect this one to be well-received.

Lion’s Breath

There are more sophisticated versions of this which include a proper seated posture, but we will just be doing it kneeling down or maybe crawling around the living room floor (like proper lions do).

Lion’s breath is good for stretching and boosting circulation in your face, as well as relieving tension in the face and chest. Plus, it makes you look really silly, which can be quite relaxing too.

  1. Inhale deeply through your nose.
  2. Exhale, with mouth and eyes wide open and tongue sticking out as far as possible, in the direction of your chin. Make a roaring ‘ha’ sort of a sound at the same time. Focus your gaze on the tip of your nose.
  3. Repeat several times.

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