Grief is rich territory for growth. We all experience loss in different ways at different times. Right now I feel withered and bare. But I also feel the sun.
Sometimes it’s necessary for me to place my hand on my own brow—on my own heart—and send blessings inward. This is the practice of loving-kindness.
Loving-kindness is open and condition-free. It's also engaged. We don't deny that life is difficult; we meet ourselves there with kindness. Instead of "I'm fine, my grief is over," I move toward my tender places. Instead of "I'll love myself after I finish the to-do list," I open my heart right now. It's a radical shift. And it's a life-changing shift. If I stay with loving-kindness practice, my heart softens and opens. From this place, I give more to the world.
The traditional teachings move outward in widening circles: ourselves, a beloved, a friend, a stranger, a difficult person, all people everywhere. It's comfortable to start with everyone—to wish the world well—but if we don't send love inward, we're disconnected. My experience is this: when I offer myself loving-kindness, I offer it easily to others. If I send blessings inward (may I be safe, happy, and free), my circle of love widens.
With any meditation practice, be honest yet gentle; persistent yet patient. There's no way to get this wrong. Just be with whatever arises: