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We Are Beloved

Lovingkindness as the Ground of Being

May 29, 2024

Beloved friends,

Spring is afoot in the forest and this little charmer has been coming by to nom at our birdfeeders in the afternoons; we're thinking it's likely a nursing mother with kits nearby. There is a family of rabbits in the rosemary; their little kit loves to chomp the fresh grass stems. And me, I'm cooking up my next delight for you: my summer course!

My courses began as meditation courses. What we have found over the years is that this path leads us rapidly to our central concern: How do we live our time in these human forms as best we can? This is why the description that I offer for the summer course is no longer "Home Meditation Course"; now it is "Support for Heartfelt Living and Change". This is work that carries us through our living. This is work that tranforms. As we neared the end of the spring course, one person said, "Oh my God, I literally might not need therapy ever again if I just do this everyday!" and another said, "Everyone should take this course." This work is deeply healing.

The structure of my teaching has recently undergone a big evolution – and I'm taking on another in the next course! The recent shift is in how I offer the teaching, an answer to the struggles I've seen people have around scarcity of time while yearning for connection and community. The teaching now comes initially in a one hour video session. Folks can join live for a shared experience or listen later for convenience. Our written conversation structure has been heavily streamlined – and the feedback that I have gotten is that it feels deeper this way! Everyone also gets time with me 1:1 now for private engagement; this tends to be rich with insight and breakthrough.

The evolution afoot for this course is that I'm offering choices in your level of engagement. This initially arose in response to requests from folks in the community for accommodation to allow participation in the spring course while enduring great challenges. This led me to realize that offering everyone this agency is a way of expressing my love, my wishes for your wellbeing, my willingness to connect with you, and the creative joy in living which I express as this teaching.

All this is to say, darlings: Registration is open for the Summer edition of Lovingkindness, and my practice is in a glorious moment of blossom. Come, check it out, ask questions; I'd love to talk to you! All are welcome in this course. Our central thread will be the cultivation of lovingkindness practice, but this doesn't make it a hearts-and-flowers situation. In our spring explorations, the most frequently raised questions were about boundaries and anger; in the autumn course, grief was central for many people. This is not toxic positivity; it is clear-sighted cultivation of love as a resource so that we can hold the fullness of our lived experience.

Below one of the teachings I gave on a Saturday in spring. I offer it as a gift and an invitation. I hope you will find it good food for thought.

Usually when I announce a new offering, someone will ask if it's okay to share the event listing, to invite friends or loved ones or post about the event somewhere. My answer is always an empathic, "Yes! Thank you!" This is how I eat! I'd be so grateful if you were to spread the word.


What Happens When Lovingkindness is the Ground of Being

Perhaps you will remember that some of the bywords of my work are: unconditional love and exquisitely clear boundaries. I think these things go hand in hand. I’d like to explore that today.

Two things which often seem to blur are kindness and niceness, but these are very different things. Love and lovingkindness and kindness have a shared continuum, but they’re not niceness.

Niceness is defined as meaning pleasant; satisfactory. Niceness can be brittle, shallow, and insincere. Niceness can be passive aggressive and punishing. Niceness is often a mask. Niceness means not rocking the boat. Niceness does not have room for difficult feelings; it blots them out in service of comfort. Niceness is a smooth surface.

In early practice, lovingkindness can feel like a layer we apply from the outside, a balm.It could perhaps be mistaken for or even misused as a way to be nice. With time, as it becomes the ground of your knowing and being, it is radical and transformational.

Lovingkindness wishes the best for all and in service of this is willing to unmask, to say hard things to do the hard and vital work of bringing forward conflict for resolution in service of genuine connection. Lovingkindness as the ground of being does not smooth over or avoid difficult feelings, but sees them and holds them with as much grace as it can. It is the loving context for everything, for difficult feelings, seeking to understand them. It may help us let things roll, be patient, and help us tolerate discomfort when those feel appropriate. Not to be nice, but to be kind.

Kindness is friendliness, generousness. It can take great discernment to know the difference between what is nice and what is kind, when to do what is uncomfortable but loving, when to make space and wait for a better moment to raise a difficult conversation. When to rock the boat. When to burn everything down.

Our lovingkindness practice can help us to develop breathing room in which to consider, so that we may act rather than reacting. It can help us hone our capacity for discernment, our willingness to apologize and make repair. Our capacity to understand and to forgive – forgiving, again, means letting go and not saying something was okay. It can deepen our capacity to understand and support our willingness to act.

If, as we practice, I Am Lovingkindness, if curiosity and compassion are long and deeply cultivated as the ground of my being, then they are the container which holds everything else. At first they may be soothing layers applied from the outside – and this is quite useful! But in time, as they become the ground of being, the context for everything, they are a profound, radical source of peace, understanding, clarity, and a strength which is both gentle and ferocious. Lovingkindness as the true central ground of being helps solidly connect our moral compass to everything else.

We can be angry, frustrated, anxious, sad, despairing, wrong, wronged – and if we understand ourselves as lovingkindness, and we have cultivated curiosity and compassion as our go-to responses, then we can hold these difficult emotions with more grace and discernment. Lovingkindness is the root of peace and the container which can support us in our wholeness, in the full complexity of all that we are.

Niceness does not have room for discomfort, for saying the necessary but difficult, for boundaries. Nice might be a doormat or a knife. Lovingkindness is the space between the stars, and the stars. And a bridge. It is a superpower and the air we breathe.

When we practice lovingkindness long and consistently, unconditional love becomes inherent in all of our being. Love connects, love is connection, and it suffuses everything, including all the ick we get socialized with, our past, our wounding, our flaws and weaknesses, the present moment, our sense of the future; it colors everything with the gentleness and astonishing strength of love.

Lovingkindness can set boundaries: clearly, and kindly. Without punishment or judgment. And hold those boundaries. Lovingkindness holds us and others.  We've been holding those we love, those we do not know, and those we dislike, fear, or even despise.

Lovingkindness, practiced over time, becomes the ground that holds everything. And when it is, it changes everything.