A Bridge Between Cultures: Loving Kindness

Each time I listen to the news these days, my heart feels a bit heavy. Particularly, as I witness cultures that have different mindsets engage in conflict. Or countries that engage in war, such as that unfolding in Ukraine.

This month as I have been exploring how we can utilize mindfulness to connect diverse cultures, I have found Dr. Vivek Murthy’s book ‘Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World ‘ a powerful and relevant read.

Author of Together, Vivek Murthy MD, keenly understands how there is strength in connecting.

“The simple reality is that we no longer have the luxury of thinking and acting tribally. Not only is it becoming harder to isolate ourselves from members of different cultures, but isolation costs us in terms of perspective and experience, which are ever more valuable resources in our global society. My view is that we have veered too far away from the group and toward the individual – throwing culture out of balance in the process – more out of benign neglect than anything else.”

Dr. Vivek Murthy, Author of Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection ina Sometimes Lonely World

So how do we as a society find a bridge between diversity in cultures?

Per renowned Buddist Monk, Dr. Jack Kornfiekd, the answer is compassion. Compassion forms the bridge between self-knowledge and self-acceptance.

And the starting point is loving-kindness toward oneself. This approach of inner-directed compassion is the focal point of the Metta Meditation. 

Dr. Murthy offers the wisdom of Dr. Jack Kornfield, who suggests the path of loving-kindness can begin with this natural bridge.

The meditation practice of Metta (loving-kindness) is a Buddhist practice that unites the thinking mind (self-knowledge) and the heart (loving-kindness).

While one of the goals of the Metta Meditation is to direct this bridge towards oneself, some find it difficult to create this union by first loving themselves. So, to start consider initiating this practice by directing your loving-kindness towards someone you love or care about.

I find this practice highly effective in particular charged times, such as when there is friction between opposing groups of people with different ideologies. 

If you are like many, the current traumatic events between Ukraine and Russia might be leaving you feeling a little bit helpless.

Fortunately, the Metta Meditation is an effective form of creating a union, and it can be initiated wherever it’s easy to open your heart.

Through a series of repeated mantras, this approach invites emotions to be expressed compassionately.

Such as, “May you be filled with love and kindness. May you be safe from inner and outer dangers. May you be well in body and mind. May you be at ease and happy.”

So, if you are searching for a way to serve humanity, consider prayers for Ukraine by utilizing the Metta Meditation (Loving-Kindness) approach. 

My Loving Kindness Prayer for Ukraine

With pure intentions, I first connect to the love in my heart. Next, I send it to those I closely love, and eventually, I send this love to those suffering. 

In the case of war-torn countries, my meditation prayer includes loving phrases directed towards both sides in this war.

By placing a hand on my heart I express “May you be safe and protected. May be peaceful and well.”

I wish for this love to be received on both sides; Infused with the intentions behind these words and invite these souls to feel the power of those words for themselves.

This meta-approach teaches me to appreciate my good qualities and intentions as well as forgive myself for those moments when I have not lived up to my own expectations or desires.

Below I offer my Metta (Loving Kindness) Guided Meditation. So, pause in your day. And set your intention to expand your love. Know in your heart, that you can make a difference through prayer or meditation.

This guided meditation alignment with what Jack Kornfield suggests to practice loving kindness.

So, in honor of those who are struggling with the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, I suggest that we all try our best to take a moment to pause to practice loving-kindness meditation.