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Excerpted from The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace by Jack Kornfield. Copyright © 2002 by Jack Kornfield. Excerpted by permission of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Without loving yourself it is almost impossible to love others."

  Jack Kornfield
The Art of Forgiveness, 
Lovingkindness, and Peace
, Part 3

You can begin the practice of lovingkindness by meditating for fifteen or twenty minutes in a quiet place. Let yourself sit in a comfortable fashion. Let your body rest and be relaxed. Let your heart be soft. Let go of any plans and preoccupations. Begin with yourself. Gently recite inwardly the following traditional phrases directed to your own well-being. You begin with yourself because without loving yourself it is almost impossible to love others.

May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be at ease and happy

As you repeat these phrases, picture yourself as you are now, and hold that image in a heart of lovingkindness. Or perhaps you will find it easier to picture yourself as a young and beloved child. Adjust the words and images in any way you wish. Find the exact phrases that best open your heart of kindness. Repeat these phrases over and over again, letting the feelings permeate your body and mind.

Practice this meditation for a number of weeks, until the sense of lovingkindness for yourself grows. Be aware that this meditation may at times feel mechanical or awkward. It can also bring up feelings contrary to lovingkindness, feelings of irritation and anger. If this happens, it is especially important to be patient and kind toward yourself, allowing whatever arises to be received in a spirit of friendliness and kind affection.

When you feel you have established some stronger sense of lovingkindness for yourself, you can then expand your meditation to include others. After focusing on yourself for five or ten minutes, choose a benefactor, someone in your life who has loved or truly cared for you. Picture this person and carefully recite the same phrases:

May you be filled with lovingkindness.
May you be safe from inner and outer dangers
May you be well in body and mind.
May you be at ease and happy.

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