Loving-kindness practices, they will change you - by Dr Liz Sparkes 
 
The heart has its own language.  
The heart knows a hundred thousand ways to speak – RUMI 
 
Compassionate meditations, originally called Metta Bhavana,  
are some of the most valuable practices. Metta means love and  
kindness, a deep held feeling of genuine compassion.  
Bhavana means cultivation. Metta Bhavana traditionally  
takes you through stages of compassionate practice,  
where you maintain a sense of your heart and feel love  
and kindness towards yourself and others, including  
people whom you perceive a difficult relationship with. 
This is an opportunity to cultivate and uncover the love and compassion that is already in your heart. We are not making something new, purely bringing the heart to life, giving it chance to shine. When we feel into the heart rather than the mind we feel the truth of the matter. 
 
Perhaps there is pain, a sense of darkness, or perhaps very little felt? Just noticing what is there is enough; each compassionate practice will allow a beautiful and gentle change to take place. This is the beauty of meditation; we are not forcing things to be anything other than what they are. Once we allow ourselves to feel things exactly as they are they naturally change or dissipate. The heart just wants to be acknowledged and felt. Society teaches us to live in the head, but spending more time in the heart reveals the truth and much opportunity for healing. 
 
Some of the best spiritual way -showers that I know always work with the heart, and in fact reminded me that to develop further on my own spiritual path I needed to feel into my heart. This is a lifelong practice, and one of constant change. It is an opportunity to release any held hurt, to develop more confidence in your own sense of self and also to be clearer on what you want. 
 
Whatever is happening in your life take it into the heart; meditate on it by just feeling into your heart. You want to know yourself better? Practice compassion. You want to remedy difficult or challenging relationships? Practice compassion. The interesting thing is that whatever in your life doesn’t feel good, the remedy starts with you. Just sitting in meditation and noticing your intention is the way to start. How does your heart feel? 
 
It’s amazing how a relationship will ease or a situation in your life will change just because you meditated on the heart and allowed the energy, the feelings to release and naturally change. Feeling anger and upset is like stepping on your own foot. Feeling into the heart and cultivating love and compassion by letting hurt be released brings you to a sense of ease with any difficulty, and it changes the energy, bringing a different perspective and a ripple of change. Just spend a little time practicing compassionate meditations, feeling into the heart and allowing metta to naturally grow. 
 
Suryacitta and I have developed an MSc Mindfulness and Compassion, because its the compassion that is like a key in the lock. Mindfulness alone will take you so far, but compassion will move you to a place of trust and feeling the heart will elevate you in so many ways. Freedom starts with the heart. 
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