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How to Meditate: Meditation 101 for Beginners
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Mindfulness 101: A Beginner's Guide
What is unconditional love? How do we practice it and invite it into our lives? Learn three ways to bring unconditional love into your life today.
So today, I'm going to explore
the topic of unconditional love.
Each one of us yearns to be
loved and accepted just the
way we are, without condition.
It's really something that everyone
wants, but I think very few
people feel capable of giving.
Perhaps because they don't really
understand what we mean by unconditional
love or because they feel that
that, that goal is just too lofty.
So we don't even try.
Now in your own direct experience,
you may have heard statements
like this over the years.
I love you when.
I love you if.
I love you, but.
What do all these
statements have in common?
Well, their conditional.
You know, the implication here
is that we're not innately
lovable and okay just as we are.
So we need to fix change or
do something in order to be
loved enough, worthy or whole.
So when it comes to unconditional
love, What exactly is it?
What's the psychology behind it
and how do we actually practice
it and invited into our lives?
So, first of all, you know, let's
just get clear on what we mean
when we say unconditional love.
When it comes to relationships.
One way to define unconditional
love is it's about caring about
the happiness and wellbeing of
another person without concern of
how it benefits you, and accepting
that person just the way they are.
But here's the funny
thing about this, right?
That perhaps paradoxically, the
research shows that it does benefit
us even when we want no benefit.
The research shows that actually
the parts of the brain that light
up during unconditional love are
linked to the brain's reward system.
So this suggests that unconditional love
is actually pleasurable and rewarding
in and of itself without you needing
to receive anything else in return.
So even if you don't want to
receive something in return, you
get something in return immediately,
which is a beautiful thing.
It's one of life's beautiful paradoxes.
So I love this term,
unconditional positive regard.
This is a term that was used,
that still is used a lot by
the psychologist, Carl Rogers.
And so according to Rogers, unconditional
positive regard involves showing complete
support and acceptance of a person, no
matter what that person says or does.
Now, his work is mainly
done in a therapy setting.
So in, in his teaching, the therapist
is encouraged to accept and support the
client no matter what they say or do.
Placing no conditions on this acceptance.
That means the therapist will continue
to support the client, whether they're
expressing so-called good behaviors
and emotions or so-called bad ones.
It means having these genuine
caring for the client, but not in a
possessive way and not in a way that
is there to satisfy the therapist's
own agendas or their own needs.
So this term, unconditional
positive regard to me is a
really close representation of
unconditional love in relationships.
This is what it's all about.
So a couple of things, I just want
to note here before I go any further.
Unconditional love does not mean
always giving people what they
want or giving your needs away.
Now, this is something that I've
had to learn the hard way personally
does learning this difference.
It doesn't mean giving
people what they want.
It doesn't mean giving your needs away.
It doesn't mean tolerating
everything that they do at the
expense of your own happiness.
Instead, this is a mature kind of love
that means treating the other person
with kindness and respect while at
the same time, maintaining your own
boundaries and looking after yourself.
So your only obligation in the
face of a person's behavior is
to communicate your message with
kindness and respect as best you can.
So this means rather than being
harsh or dismissive, you're being
attuned and connected ,even while
you're setting limits and having
difficult conversations as you need to.
Unconditional love also does not
mean people pleasing or trying
to be everything to other people.
So, how can we practice
being unconditionally loving?
How do we practice unconditional love?
Well, the first key kind of
insight to loving unconditionally
is really, really simple.
Think of unconditional love as a practice.
A teacher once pointed out to me
a really simple but empowering
truth that I never ever forgot.
He said, love is a verb.
It's a doing word.
So instead of thinking of unconditional
love as some kind of permanent state or
something that you, you just kind of it's
all or nothing, you either have it or
you don't, think of it as a practice that
you can pick up and choose at any time.
Or we can choose to practice unconditional
love as a way of relating to ourselves,
relating to the world around us,
and a way of relating to each other.
And whatever you practice grows stronger.
So if you practice unconditional
love a lot, it eventually becomes
second nature and can even move from
being a state that you practice to
a trait that's just a part of you.
So here's three ways that you
can start to practice being
more unconditionally loving.
The first is to lay aside
your attachment to judgements.
So judgements are often what gets in
the way of our ability to be really
loving and accepting of each other.
So there's a story or an analogy
that spiritual teacher Ram Dass often
uses and I think it's really, it's
really, really beautiful and simple.
This is what he says.
He says, you know, when you go out
into the woods and you look at trees
and you see all these different trees
and some of them are bent and some
of them are straight and some of them
have kind of twisted around the other
trees to try and get to the light.
Some of them are evergreens and you
know, all kinds of different trees.
So when you look at the
tree, you simply allow it.
You appreciate it, even if
it's all twisted and bent.
You see why it's the way it is.
You kind of understand that one
tree maybe didn't get enough light.
So it twisted that way or that way.
And you don't get all
emotional or reactive about it.
You just allow it.
You appreciate the tree just as it is.
But he also notes that the minute
we get me a human's, near each
other, we often lose all of that.
We're like the judging mind comes
in and it's saying you're too this
and you're too that, and you need
to do this and need to do that.
So he says what he practices now is
turning people into trees, which means
appreciating them just the way they are.
And I love this analogy.
Because it invites us all to remember
and to appreciate, and to remember to
appreciate each other, to be kind to
each other, to honor our differences
and to really see past the judgements,
opinions, and preconceived notions
we often have about each other.
What a wonderful practice of
unconditional love this is.
You know, by turning people into trees,
we lay aside our judgments and we're more
able to give others what we all most want,
love and acceptance, just how we are.
So I invite you to try this practice
of turning people into trees and also
to, you know, as you do that, to really
ponder and hold close these words so
eloquently spoken by His Holiness, the
Dalai Lama, who said, "What is love?
Love is the absence of judgment."
So the second thing that we can do to be
unconditionally loving is really simple.
The second thing is to be truly present
for people, to let them be seen and heard.
You know, one really simple practice
to be more present with people is
the practice of mindful listening.
Because here's the thing, when we're
often with other human beings, we, you
know, when we're kind of communicating
with another person, we're often there
in body, but we're not fully present.
You know, very often when not
truly listening to people.
We're caught up in our own mind chatter,
judging what they're saying, mentally
agreeing or disagreeing, or just waiting
until it's our turn to speak next.
You know, often we're just
not really interested.
We're not really there at all.
And sometimes we even interrupt
and become impatient, or we assert
our opinions instead of really
listening to understand them.
And the people we often do this with the
most are the people closest to us, the
ones who probably want out love the most.
So one of the most simple and powerful
practices I know of unconditional
love is mindful listening.
We, human beings are
really social creatures.
We're always communicating
with each other.
So we have a lot of
opportunities to practice this.
So here's the invitation, hey.
The next time you're with a loved one
or a coworker, try using this time
as an exercise in mindful listening.
See if you can give them your undivided
attention, you're full presence.
Really listen to what they're saying.
Give them a space to be seen and heard.
And just like in meditation practice,
if you find your mind wandering or
judging what they're saying or waiting
for your turn, just gently bring
your focus back to the listening.
The one thing you're really going
to notice if you do this practice
is that people deeply appreciate
when you truly listen to them.
And you're also going to find very likely,
it was much more likely that when it's
your turn to speak, they'll listen to
you and receive you in the same way.
Now, and of course, besides mindful
listening, there's just this general
practice of really showing up for people,
being there fully when you're with them.
Be fully present with them.
The nonverbal message that we send when
we're fully present with people is this.
I love you.
So you know, the greatest gift
you can give the people in your
life is probably your attention.
And in a world where there's so much
disconnection and distraction, being
present in that way gives you back
the possibility of genuine connection,
authenticity, and love in your life.
So the third thing that you can practice
is something called loving kindness.
So if we think about unconditional love
as, you know, the expression of our
kindest self, you know, it's active,
it's something we can do regardless,
actually, of whether a person is right
in front of us or we're all alone.
It's something we can
choose to do in any moment.
And this cultivating of our kindness
self can be done through a practice,
a meditation practice, traditionally
known as Metta or loving kindness.
So in this meditation, we bring
to mind, usually a person.
And we orient our mind towards
sending them love, well-wishing,
support and kindness.
And, and we often do this in the
form of mental mantras, or you
might call them pres or wishes.
We mentally repeat phrases
that sound like this.
May you be happy.
May you be free from suffering.
May your heart be filled with peace.
So during the meditation, we use
these kinds of mental mantras
as a support to orienting our
mind towards love and kindness.
So we can, not only hold somebody that
we know that we like, like a friend in
awareness in this way, but you can also
practice with just strangers on the
street that we've seen or the shopkeeper
down the road, our enemies, even.
And in this practice, there's a
possibility of this is a very guided
meditation, usually where we hold, you
know, even our community or even the
whole world, or all living beings in
this loving, kindness, this energy.
We bathe ourselves and the world
in this energy of loving kindness.
But what it's really doing is it's
flooding our own mind and our own being
with this energy of loving kindness.
It's hardwiring our mind to be kinder.
So this is something that we can,
not only doing these meditation, so
by the way, this Metta meditation,
this loving kindness, meditation is
in the Mindfulness.com app library.
So you can find it there to practice
with, but this is also something
we can do in daily life, too.
One of the deepest habitual patterns
of the human mind is that we
often have this feeling that the
present moment is not good enough.
You know, sometimes it's
that we are not good enough.
Our partners are not good enough.
Others are not good enough.
Our boss is not good enough life.
Isn't good enough.
So this practice of unconditional
love dissolves this pattern.
By actively sending loving kindness
to others, ourselves and the world,
you prime your mind to embody
this way of being more and more.
So next time you find yourself
criticizing, judging, or being negative
about someone in your head, try pausing
just for a moment, maybe five seconds,
and dissolving that negativity by
sending them love and good wishes.
Now this can be done using those
mentally repeated phrases like above.
Like, you know, may you
be free from suffering.
May you be happy.
Or you can make up your own,
whatever suits you, but you can
also mentally repeat these phrases.
Or you can visualize, if you're a
visual person, you can visualize
sending them light and love.
You can also feel.
Some people are really feeling people.
So you can just feel that you're sending
like radiating love to this person.
Now you can also try just sending loving
kindness to a stranger on the street
passing by, the shopkeeper, your boss.
As you walk by them, you can just
take a three to five second kind
of mental pause and just send
them your love and blessings.
We can also practice this for ourselves.
You know, many of us are really kind to
others, but not so much with ourselves.
We're often really harsh
and critical on ourselves.
So we can practice this unconditional
love for ourselves in the same way.
If you find yourself being self-critical,
being really hard on yourself,
try changing the time to kindness.
Again, three to five seconds, just to
mentally say to yourself, may I be happy.
May I be safe and protected.
May my heartbeat filled with peace.
May I feel love and joy.
And whatever phrases
that make sense to you.
So today and this week, see if you
can practice loving someone just
as they are without any need to
change anything about them at all.
See if you can lay aside
judgments, give your attention
and practice loving kindness.
And practice doing it for
yourself and the world.
Instead of rejecting the present
moment or trying to rush through it
or wishing it was different, we can
practice showing up with our whole
selves and being really alive to it all.
If we can be whole heartedly present
in this way for life, accepting
and befriending, whatever arises
moment by moment, we truly can start
to fall in love with life again.
So remember, what we all
want most in this world is
unconditional love and acceptance.
And by practicing giving this kind of
love, you might just become someone's
next chance or maybe their only chance
or their last chance to be welcomed,
seen, understood, and accepted.
And your unconditional love may
just create the conditions needed
for them to flourish, thrive, and
be a force for good in the world.
And of course, in the process, you
yourself become filled with the
energy of love that you always wanted.
Maybe this is one of the reasons
it's so often said that the
secret to living is giving.
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