When it comes to teaching mindfulness the memories of kindness meditation practice is one of the introductory techniques we use to explore and cultivate kindness in our lives. This post will give a general overview of why we do the memories of kindness meditation, the stages we go through in the memories of kindness practice and a guided audio recording for you to follow and help you practise the technique.
Why do the memories of kindness practice
Practising kindness both towards other people and, just as importantly, towards yourselves helps us develop one of the critical elements of mindfulness practice: that is our ability to be more open and less critical of ourselves and others.
Furthermore cultivating kindness is crucial towards our mindfulness practice because as our meditation practice develops, we begin to become more aware of the thoughts passing through our minds.
We start to become more aware of our habitual patterns of thought and behaviour. It’s similar to turning on a dimmer switch up in a dark room. Similarly, mindfulness increases our inner awareness, and this starts to reveal more and more of what is in the room of our mind and some of the things we might get to know about ourselves we might not like. It might be that we start to notice that we are more selfish, angry, fearful or anxious than we had previously realised.
Usually, when we notice something about ourselves that we don’t like, we give ourselves a hard time sometimes being overly critical of yourself but also others. This can be counterproductive during mindfulness practice because it merely strengthens that habitual voice of our inner critic as Shauna Shapiro says, “what we practise grows stronger”. Therefore Maintaining an attitude of kindness is crucial towards our meditation practice and the memories of kindness meditation is one of the methods we use to cultivate kindness not only towards ourselves but also those around us.
Kindness is a genuine wish for the happiness and well-being of ourselves and others.
What happens during the memories of kindness meditation practice
During the memories of kindness meditation practice, we will look at 3 elements of kindness. We will begin to investigate the differences between:
- Receive kindness from others
- Offering kindness to others
- Being kind to yourself.
So, to do this practice, we need to find a quiet place and set a time during our day where we can put distractions aside so we won’t be disturbed. Then sitting down on a straight back chair finding a dignified posture one that is stable with a straight back but also one that is comfortable and has a sense of ease to it. Then bring to mind our intention for doing this practice to explore kindness and our motivation for doing this practice – Why would we like to explore kindness? How might this exploration of kindness be of benefit to ourselves and those around us? Then we go through the stages of settling and grounding. Thereafter we recall a time when someone was kind to us, a time when we were kind to someone else and a situation where we were kind towards ourselves. While doing so, we notice and explore any thoughts, feelings and physical sensations that might arise within or experience while recalling such memories.
Points to keep in mind while doing the memories of kindness meditation
It’s not unusual for human beings to be somewhat hard on themselves. So, it might be that when you try directing kindness towards yourself, you might notice an inner resistance. This is a common experience during this practice, so if this happens, remind yourself that this is normal and you are okay. Also remember that during this practice, we are not trying to evoke feelings of kindness but watching observing whatever arises let it be feelings of warmth, numbness or resistance with an open curiosity. Such an open, gentle, curious attitude towards our experience is vital. As overtime as our practice develops, such a stance will help us cultivate a kind more open friendliness towards ourselves.
Guided memories of kindness meditation recording
Following is a guided recording of the memories of kindness meditation practice for you to follow to help you practice the technique. Allow yourself about 15 minutes for this exercise.
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Choden, & Regan-Addis, H. (2018). Mindfulness based living course. New Alresford: John Hunt Publishing.
TEDx Talks. (2017, March 10). The Power of Mindfulness: What You Practice Grows Stronger | Shauna Shapiro | TEDxWashingtonSquare [Video}. YouTube. From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeblJdB2-Vo&t=9s