Q. When I practice loving-kindness meditation, I can’t tell whether it’s working. I feel like nothing is happening. Shouldn’t I be feeling something?
A. The first time that I ever did loving-kindness practice was without a teacher. I was on a self-retreat and I thought it was a perfect opportunity.
I knew that it was done in successive stages and I began with a week of sending myself loving-kindness. All day long, I would go around the retreat building—sitting in my room, sitting in the hall—saying may I be happy, may I be peaceful, may I be liberated, and I felt absolutely nothing.
At the end of the week, something happened to someone in the community and I, quite unexpectedly, had to leave the retreat. Then I felt doubly bad—not only did nothing happen but I never even got beyond myself, which was really selfish.
I was running around in the flurry of having to leave. I dropped a jar of something, which shattered into a thousand pieces. The first thought that came up was: “You are really a klutz, but I love you.” And I thought, “Oh wow! Look at that.” All those hours where I was just dry and mechanical and I felt like nothing was happening. It was happening. It just took a while for me to sense the flowering of that and it was so spontaneous that it was quite wonderful. So: Not to struggle, to try to make something happen. Let it happen. Let your mind rest in the phrases, and let the phrases be meaningful to you. It will happen.
Loving-kindness expert Sharon Salzberg guides an 8-minute meditation for wishing everyone around us well—including ourselves. Read More