Today, I invited the youth in Children’s Chapel to consider the topic of loving kindness. Loving kindness is the religious practice of recognizing and treasuring the majesty in all creatures. I offered it as a way to live the Valentine’s Day holiday on more than just February 14.
As part of chapel, we did a loving kindness meditation. I asked the children to visualize different people and then send loving kindness to those people. One of the people we did this for was someone toward whom we felt hostile or annoyed. “Like a bully?” “Like a brother or sister?” “Like someone who takes your toys?” I agreed that any of these kinds of people would fit the description.
We reflected afterward on why we might send loving kindness toward bullies or irritating siblings or toy-stealers. I was touched by the insight of these 7- and 8- and 10-year-old kids.
“We hope they won’t be a bully anymore.” “Maybe they are having a bad day, and we want them to have a better day and feel better.” “It is like, when someone does something bad, and you say, ‘I will pray for you.'”
The kids agreed that they could use loving kindness throughout their day or during specific times when they feel stressed or scared or angry. They said they felt better after practicing the meditation.
Instead of seeing “hostile people” as the enemy, these kids understood that sometimes the difference between a friend and an enemy is just a matter of perspective. Most significantly, they learned a bit about taking responsibility for their own feelings and soothing themselves in times of discomfort. These are the skills from which resilience is born.