Friendliness is much needed in our polarised world, as we shared in an earlier post. The easing of lockdown due to the coronavirus is seeing people getting together again. But we remain heavily dependent on technology. Using technology as a key to communication has made us a little less kind or friendly to one another. Can friendliness and kindness come from within? In this post, we share how we can cultivate friendliness with meditation.
People are Good-Willed, not always friendly
Being kind and friendly is a gift we give to others. It is a gift of openness and softness, putting the other person at ease. We may feel that kindness needs to be given to us in order that we may learn how to be friendly. Or that we need kindness to experience this feeling so we can store it within us to give to others. But we know this isn’t true. Some people do not like to receive friendliness given by others, much less remembering and storing this feeling to pass it around. Also, people are generally good-willed. A report found that people are generally stressed when they hear about another suffering traumatic event on news. But this does not mean they are generally friendly on a daily basis.
Why Generate Friendliness Within?
Although it is true that we experience the world with what we see, feel, and touch, we neglect to see these experiences of life are felt within. Using politics as an example, why do so many of us disagree over certain events taking place globally? It is one event unfolding on news, but yet there are many opinions. The differing opinions stem from our different educational backgrounds and beliefs. But while expressing these opinions, we do feel fervent about our views. Also, if there is an opposing view, we may feel a little anger or strong emotions arising to defend our view. These feelings are experienced inside of us.
Is it possible to share and exchange opinions – or worst still, allow another person to have his or her view as the last word? Can we let another have the last word without feeling resentment? It is possible if we learn to generate friendliness towards ourselves first. We learn to take care of our own inner experience in situations, thereby protecting others’ feelings as well. In this way, we show friendliness to ourselves and others.
How to Develop Friendliness With Meditation
Practising friendliness meditation regularly help us become familiar with this warm feeling. Growing this feeling and becoming familiar with it allows us to show it externally. Others too, can feel whether someone is kind to himself or herself.
Sit comfortably on a chair or a cushion on the floor. If you are on a chair, place your feet firmly but relaxed on the ground. If you are on a cushion, sit in a cross-legged or full lotus position. Take a few relaxing breaths, allowing the breath to flow through you gently as you breathe in and out. Calm the mind down by paying relaxed attention to breath sensations in your abdomen as it rises and falls.
When the mind has quietened down, bring to mind a person who has been kind to you. Most of us do not have pure positive experiences with those around us, but there are those we know who always have our wellbeing at heart. Explore the feelings of friendliness and kindness given to you by this person – he/she could be a friend, a family member, or a co-worker. Stay on this feeling for a while. You do not need to hold on to the image of this person. With this feeling of kindness and friendliness generated in your heart, now feel this soft open feeling towards yourself. Forgive yourself for what you may have done and regretted, then resolve not to do it again. Then generate and feel this kindness towards yourself, being gentle to yourself – what you have achieved and what you can’t achieve.
Spreading Friendliness to All
Radiate this friendly feeling from your heart towards your whole body. Feel as if all of your cells are filled with this feeling of openness and softness towards yourself. After you feel yourself soaked in the feeling of friendliness, start to spread this feeling towards your family, friends, co-workers and even those you do not know very well.
You can also bring a smile to your face as you spread kindness and friendliness to yourself and to others. Try cultivating friendliness with meditation as an experiment and do this meditation for 15 to 20 minutes a day and see how you feel after 21 days.
MBSAT is an 8-week mindfulness training, designed for the non-clinical population. It is aimed at the workplace and also for individuals in making wise decisions. A wise decision is knowing that our inner experience matters to us. No one can make us feel good or happy for long. But we can learn to be happy within whether at work or at home.
The COVID 19 pandemic has helped us realise that MBSAT is also suitable as an online mindfulness training as our participants have benefitted from it during the period of the outbreak.