Thursday, September 12, 2013

Loving-Kindness for Your Anxiety about Difficult People

Loving-Kindness for Your Anxiety about Difficult People

Zuri Struggles with a Girl at School

Zuri is very sweet. Perhaps, she knows, she is what people call “Too nice.” It’s hard for her because she feels what others are feeling. She really does. When someone is hurting, she knows it. When someone is mad, she feels it. Sometimes she pretends this is her super power, a super powered ability to feel the feelings of others. Many times, she doesn’t like this gift she has. It is a lot to take in everyday. It also makes it difficult for her to pay attention her own feelings and needs. The result is Zuri feeling very anxious.

There are certain people who trigger her more than others. At school, there is a girl in her grade, eighth grade, which has it hard at home. Her name is Jayla. Jayla lives with her grandmother. Zuri isn’t sure but she thinks Jayla’s older brother is at the alternative school for kids with behavior problems and things like that. She doesn’t know much about Jayla’s parents but she heard a rumor that Jalya’s mom overdosed two years ago.

Zuri and Jayla don’t get along. Jayla is hard on Zuri. She teases her and bullies her. Zuri knows what Jayla has been through and struggles to speak up to Jayla or tell on her. She sits near Jayla in some classes and has heard her crying with her head in her folded arms on the desk. Zuri has tried to be kind, supportive, and nice. When she smiles at Jayla, Jayla looks at her and says, “What? What do you want?” and then shakes her head, “Stupid, Zuri, you are so stupid.”

At night, Zuri worries about Jayla for two reasons. First, she gets stressed about what Jayla will say to her tomorrow. Second, she worries that Jayla might not be okay. She does not know what to do. She figures she might read some of the stuff in the yoga bag, maybe there is something in there….

I am hoping she finds the loving-kindness meditation. As she flips through my journal, I pray hard that she sees it. Ahhhh. She does. Zuri begins to read the section on loving-kindness. I ran into this in yoga training and then again teaching a class called, The Mindful Therapist at the University. I love it. I am so happy Zuri found it.

She reads my notes. They tell her to sit in a comfortable place. She snuggles into her bed, pillows around her hips, legs cross. She thinks, “All set.” Then, the notes tell her to focus on her breath, her belly, and observe as she breathes. She does this. She follows all of the breathing instructions.*

Next, the notes explain that she can speak or think (inner speaking) the phrases:

May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I have ease of the body and mind.
May I be at peace.

Next, she is asked to expand her field of loving-kindness outside of herself:

May the people who take care of me be safe.
May the people who take care of me be healthy.
May the people who take care of me have ease of the body and mind.
May the people who take care of me be at peace.

She is then asked to further expand her field of loving-kindness in this way:

May those I love be safe.
May those I love be healthy.
May those I love have ease of mind and body.
May those I love be at peace.

Further, she expands her field of loving-kindness to those she feels neutrally about (neither likes or dislikes-- acquaintances you see at the store once in a while or the new crossing guard on the way to school):

May my acquaintances be safe.
May my acquaintances be healthy.
May my acquaintances have ease of the mind and body.
May my acquaintances be at peace.

This last one will be harder for her. The notes ask her to think about someone that is difficult in her life and expand the field of loving-kindness to him or her.

Zuri knows this means Jayla.

May Jayla be safe.
May Jayla be healthy.
May Jayla have ease of the body and mind.
May Jayla be at peace.

Zuri says that one twice. It actually felt good and she felt stronger.

The notes then direct her to extend her field of loving-kindness outward even further. To the whole earth, to the solar system and then to the universe. Wow! Zuri felt strong and wonderful.

Next, day, she Zuri sees Jayla and feels the loving-kindness, no worries, no stress, just the loving-kindness. Jayla says, “What? What do you want?” and Zuri smiles and keeps walking to class in her breath and in her loving-kindness.

The Process:

These instructions are paraphrased from a wonderful text/workbook that is strongly recommended by me for you. It is called, A Mindfulness Stress Reduction Workbook by Stahl & Goldstein (New Harbinger Press).* You can purchase it on or any other web-based book store or order it through your local book store.  The text gives you step-by-step instructions on many mindful techniques that can ease stress in your life with effective tools.

The loving-kindness meditation is a tool that can really help your stress associated with difficult people. No matter where you work of how many people are in your circle of family, you will, no doubt, for sure, run into people that trigger you (you probably trigger them too- really you probably do). This meditation  returns you to openness, strength, and flexibility in the relationship and out of reaction.

I respect Zuri. She does better than I do at these things. Loving-kindness practice is challenging. When I am feeling discouraged, I remind myself that this is a practice. With practice, you get stronger, better, and more effective. Just like self-love, our love for, and being with others, is a practice. The loving-kindness meditation keeps us in good intention and headed in the right direction.



*Stahl, B., & Goldstein, E. (2010). A mindfulness-based stress reduction workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Press.

For an overview of people in Zuri's life go here:

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