If we find ourselves sad, depressed, anxious, or just kind of down- the quickest way we can get out of these funky states is to take the focus off of ourselves and focus our love onto others.
Agape is the christian term for unconditional love for the world and others. Other cultures and religions have terms for it as well. Buddhists have a practice for culturing metta, which is about caring about the welfare and happiness of others. In Judaism, rachamim is the love that encourages us to love , care, and develop empathy for others. Islam has the word mahabba which means spiritual love for others and God.
We can practice Agape in our everyday lives. Try getting in the habit of blessing everyone you see throughout your day. This can be people you know or strangers. I like to bless the other drivers on the highway during my morning and afternoon commute. I figure we are all in this together and truly rely on each other to keep us all safe on the road. Driving is about trust. So why not love our fellow motorists? (I call this my anti-road rage campaign. Ha!)
Marci Shimoff in her book Happy for No Reason has a nice exercise for practicing loving kindness (p.145):
Essentially the exercise is about extending and wishing loving kindness to others.
1. Close eyes, breathe.
2. Repeat following phrases silently: “May I be safe. May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I live with ease”.
3. Continue feeling these wishes for yourself until you feel peaceful.
4. Now move on to your friends and family. Picture their faces, one at a time, as you wish to them silently:
“May you be safe. May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you live with ease.”
5. Continue sending these wishes until you feel a flow of love in your heart.
6. Now send these wishes to all living beings around the world. Continue until you feel a sense of expansion in your heart.
This would be a marvelous exercise to do right before going to sleep. How wonderful to drift into slumberland feeling all peaceful and full of love for self and others. Try it tonight.
Debra : )