I had the opportunity to chat with one of our favorite teachers, Carol Grimes, this week, to talk with her about her upcoming series on Loving Kindness - her passion for the practice. I'm happy to share it with you here!
EB: What got you started with Loving Kindness practices? Where did it all begin for you?
CG: I was introduced to loving-kindness practice in a beginning meditation series and was further exposed when I began to take part in 5-10 day silent meditation retreats. Then I signed up for retreats that were specifically focused on loving-kindness meditation. From there I started to transform the more formal meditation in which I’d been trained, and integrate the practices into less formal daily life and activities. The creativity and integration into my “normal life” was when the practice of loving-kindness really began to take hold and make a difference.
EB: How have you seen the practices make a difference in your own life?
CG: There has been a tremendous transformation that has occurred over a long and steady period of time in which loving-kindness practice has re-trained my brain and my system on several different levels. I first noticed that it significantly reduced the voice of the inner-critic and increased an inner sense of kindness, acceptance, and self-compassion. It also helped to recalibrate my nervous system to feel an overall reduction of stress and “fight or flight.” I also felt more connected with my own heart, with other people, animals, nature, as well as with Prana itself (life force). It was a powerful tool in my journey to heal from chronic pain. Perhaps most significantly, at a time in my life when I was practically paralyzed with intense fear and anxiety, loving-kindness practice helped me learn to overcome fear. As a human being, that is a very huge and unforgettable thing to experience.
EB: I know you've been teaching these practices for many years. What have you seen in your students?
CG: Students who have taken my “Loving-Kindness Practice Series” have been very curious about the formal aspects of practice, but then with encouragement have slowly, steadily felt more confident with the creative aspect of integrating it into their daily lives. This integration has led to reported feelings of greater connectivity, the ability to better deal with difficult people, a lessening of fear and anxiety, a support for physical or emotional pain, and an overall increase in happiness.
EB: How do Loving Kindness practices pair with other focus areas of your teaching?
CG: I believe that loving-kindness has an important role to play in the practice of yoga. It supports one of the first foundations of yoga -- ahimsa (non-harming). Anytime you are experiencing pain or discomfort in a yoga class and you can modify for yourself or take care of yourself (rather than criticizing yourself inwardly and pushing yourself to do what everyone else is doing). In this, you are practicing self-kindness and compassion. And to take it one step further, when you notice that your mind is being unkind or critical during class, simply noticing, observing, and turning a kind eye toward that inner critic with recognition that it comes from a deeper place of pain or habit is a way to practice loving-kindness. In other words, accepting and loving whatever arises in each moment, and choosing to care and be kind.
You can check out more info about Carol's upcoming series:
Sundays, starting January 5, 12.30 - 1.45pm