Here are a few books we recommend to get deeper into this subject:
Loving Kindness by Sharon Salzberg. Salzberg is the unofficial queen of ‘metta’, the Pali term that is generally translated as loving kindness. Salzberg sometimes prefers to think of the term as being friendliness, or about inter-connectedness, but regardless, this was the first of several fantastic books she has written related to how we can develop our capacity for love, compassion, generosity and kindness. Her teaching comes from a Buddhist perspective but is relevant as advice for anybody from any tradition, or for those from no tradition.
Standing at the Edge by Joan Halifax. Halifax is an awe-inspiring Zen priest and the Abbot of the Upaya Institute and Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In this book she doesn’t hold back from the truth that playing in the sphere of love and compassion is a challenge. In fact she identifies five ‘edge states’ – altruism, empathy, integrity, respect, and engagement – that she believes pose great difficulty. Going over the edge with any of these can result in feelings of overwhelm and exhaustion. Yet it is only by being prepared to find and stand on these edges that we can experience all of what life has to offer and to discover our full humanity.
Awakening Through Love by John Makransky. Makransky is a professor of Comparative Theology at Boston College and co-founder of the Foundation for Active Compassion. In this book he brings some of the ancient Tibetan teachings on love and compassion and makes the accessible for anyone wishing to learn more about these skills in the modern world.
Self-Compassion by Kristen Neff. Neff is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas and one of the pioneers into academic research and study of self-compassion. There are many easy to understand and simple to follow exercises that help us explore our capacity for self-acceptance, self-compassion and self-love. At times her academic rigor shows up as she deftly shows the difference between self-esteem as practiced in most of the West as opposed to self-acceptance. At times she is wonderfully practical inviting us (as uncomfortable as it seems on the surface) to try out simple practices to take care of ourselves such as just giving ourselves a hug (yes we know how that sounds – but if you can get over it and try it you might discover that you like it more than you realize!).