Mindfulness Exercises to Generate Friendliness
To practice mindfulness, you have to be open to friendliness. True mindfulness is not pure attention alone. In Eastern language, the word for mind and heart is often the same word, which is heartfulness. Heartfulness is giving attention to anything that you can perceive with a sense of warmth, kindliness and friendliness, and thereby avoid self-criticism and blame.
Here are some ways of specifically generating warmth and friendliness, along with attention. You need to give each of these exercises at least five minutes for best effect. Try to generate an intention rather than a feeling.
Look at something in front of you in the same way as you may look into the eyes of a beautiful child, or a flower. Bring a sense of affection to your visual perception, whatever that may be, for a few minutes. Note what happens.
Listen to your favorite piece of relaxing music. This may be a piece of classical music, New Age music, or perhaps it’s the sounds of nature, such as birds singing or the wind rustling the trees.
Smell the aroma in the room around you or of the food on your plate, in the same way that you smell the most beautiful scent of a perfume.
When you next eat, take a few moments to feel your breath. You may find this difficult as the habit is to dive in and munch, but hold back if you can. Now remember how lucky you are to have some food to eat at all. Chew each morsel fully before you tuck into your next helping. Savor the taste.
Notice the sense of touch as you walk from one place to another. Slow down as much as you can, and feel the sensations in the feet. Imagine your feet are kissing the earth with each step you take. Visualize yourself walking on precious ground, and allow yourself to be fully immersed in the sense of contact.
Listen to any negative thoughts or emotions in yourself. Perhaps you’re habitually critical of yourself for having these feelings. Try a radically different approach – befriend them. Bring a sense of warmth and kindness to your anger, jealousy or frustration. Listen to yourself compassionately as you would to a good friend – with care and understanding. What happens?