Living Loving Kindness

By Heath and Nicole Reed
[Savvy Self-Care]

Heath and Nicole Reed here as your new Savvy Self-Care guides, and we’re inviting you to join us on a practical journey of self-care—a voyage where you can experiment with your practice to experience greater amounts of vitality, positivity, and friendliness. On this journey, we will explore the essential nutrients that have fueled our thriving and resilient bodywork practice for over 17 years. Just like the necessary sustenance provided from eating food and breathing air, these essential nutrients both nourish us and have the potential to expand our capacity to feel good in our bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits for longer periods of time.
When considering self-care, many people focus on safe ways to move, massage, and exercise their physical bodies. These are important approaches, though we also emphasize the powerful impact of choosing to nourish our body intelligence, befriending the continuous waves of all our emotions, and appreciating how we direct the focus of our thoughts. Savvy Self-Care advocates generating a variety of feedback loops that create possibilities and collaboration with the events going on inside and outside of us in ways that feel simple, easy, and fun!

Living Laboratories
Over the years, we have cultivated a daily practice of self-care that relies on experimentation. We notice that ideas don’t have meaning or impact until they are experienced. Therefore, regular experimentation is a fulcrum by which we constantly test what serves and works best for us in the present moment. We have found this experimental attitude has opened us up to more possibilities than we previously imagined, and we are excited to share these tools with you.
As a result of our daily experimentation, our work, play, and relationships have become “living laboratories” where we seek to generate more aliveness and zest. And just like any empirical scientific study, we emphasize approaching life, ideas, and situations as opportunities to test out different practices and notice if the results of our living laboratory are in alignment with what we most want. If we like the results, we practice these more often, and if we don’t, we simply let them go without criticism.
Since we started dating 20-plus years ago, we have been exploring the essential nutrients to a thriving relationship. Experimenting in the living laboratories of our relationship, as well as in our bodywork practices, we have discovered this most essential nutrient: our ability to practice loving kindness. In fact, our company’s name, Living Metta, is inspired by our many trips to Thailand, where we were introduced to the Thai word metta, meaning “loving kindness.” For us, loving kindness is the architecture of our living laboratory. And we fortify this architecture with a self-care practice that is friendly, fun, and compassionate.
For us, living loving kindness requires us to be friendly. It is the act of welcoming all our experiences, feelings, and thoughts as if they were dear, close friends. Loving kindness does not argue with what is going on in the moment, but rather invites us to face, accept, and be friendly with what is.
Loving kindness looks for opportunities to generate more fun and connection. And, loving kindness is the practice of choosing to be compassionate and caring with others and with ourselves.

A Loving Kindness Deficit
It’s easy for most of us professional givers to be friendly, kind, and compassionate to others. We check in to determine perfect pressure and pace, and create a space that is nourishing and easy for our clients to experience relief. However, we noticed early in our career (as well as noticing other colleagues’ practices) that there is a dearth of loving kindness directed inwardly, to ourselves. If you regularly feel fatigued, burnt out, or are experiencing repetitive injuries, you may be experiencing a loving kindness deficit.
Our Thai massage teacher Pichet says, “You cannot feed someone else if you are hungry. If your bowl is empty, what do you have to give?”
We experience loving kindness deficit as “giving until it hurts.” In our bodies, it’s felt as pain, tension, and resistance. In our minds, we become bored, distracted, or tired. And in our hearts, we may experience this deficit as feeling irritated, unavailable, and defensive.

Your First Experiment
The first living laboratory experiment we offer you is a combo move for your mind, heart, and body. This is practical loving kindness. Throughout every session ask these two questions: Does it feel good to receive? And does it feel good to give?
You know you are practicing loving kindness when your clients say it feels good to receive and when you are able to say it feels good to give.
This simple noticing continues to revolutionize our practice and refuel our minds, bodies, and hearts. Not only do we use this line of questioning in sessions, but we also sprinkle it throughout our day: when booking appointments, making professional or personal agreements, deciding what to eat for dinner, or wondering how our bodies want to move or rest throughout the day. Being a living laboratory encourages us to regularly check in with ourselves to ask: “Does this next agreement, action step, or choice feel good—both in the doing and in the receiving?” If it doesn’t feel good, we stop it or change at least one thing.
We are no longer giving until it hurts. We no longer sacrifice our bodies for a technique or for another person. This is simple and may be obvious. However, simplicity doesn’t mean it’s easy to forge a new habit of refusing to feel bad, especially if we’re used to compromising our own well-being for the sake of helping others. In fact, living loving kindness is the result of recommitting hundreds, if not thousands, of times.
Imagine how you would feel if you took care of yourself in the same ways you take care of your clients. And, are you willing to give yourself the same quality of loving kindness that you so freely give to your clients, friends, and family?

Choosing Loving Kindness
Loving kindness is a lifestyle choice. Being friendly to yourself and being friendly to others is a choice. Every day, we make hundreds and sometimes thousands of choices that help create a reality we enjoy and/or complain about. Although knowledge and wisdom are related, they are not synonymous. In our living laboratories of loving kindness, experience is the invaluable prerequisite to acquiring wisdom. What we learn from experience provides us the wisdom to make a certain choice or try a particular thing. Over time, loving kindness becomes a choice-less choice. We no longer think loving kindness, we get to be loving kindness. It is a part of how we navigate through the world, how we treat others, and, most importantly, how we treat ourselves.
What is one thing you could be doing now that makes you feel better? Would you be willing to give that to yourself today and perhaps every day? Join in on our living laboratory adventure as we practice loving kindness to refresh, restore, and refuel our bodies, minds, and hearts!

Heath and Nicole Reed are co-founders of Living Metta (living “loving kindness”) and want everyone in the world to enjoy the experience of befriending their body. The Reeds lead workshops and retreats across the country and overseas, including Thailand and Mexico, and have been team-teaching touch and movement therapy for 16 years. In addition to live classes, the Reeds offer massage therapy and self-care videos, DVDs, and online trainings, which may be found online at