Welcome back. Today, we’ll focus on a meditation technique.
One of my favorite meditation techniques is called Loving-Kindness Meditation. There is significant research support for this meditation. One study found that when adults practiced loving-kindness meditation regularly, they experienced an increase in positive emotions, and these in turn led to a variety of positive outcomes, including improved relationships and reduced symptoms of illness . A pilot study with individuals with chronic back pain found that eight weeks of loving-kindness meditation practice led to significant reductions in both pain and psychological distress . A small study with individuals with schizophrenia found that loving-kindness meditation practice decreased negative symptoms . Bottom line: Loving-Kindness meditation has powerful potential to improve your health and well-being. Are you ready to give it a try?
First, Pick Your People
In this meditation, you will focus on five people. It is simply a thought exercise, so you can choose a small child, a loved one who lives far away or has passed away, or someone from your past with whom you are no longer in contact.
The first person is you.
The second person is someone you both respect and love dearly; this may be a cherished teacher, mentor, or spiritual guide.
The third person is a loved one, a close friend or family member for whom you have strong positive emotion.
The fourth person is a neutral person, someone with whom you have regular interaction but no strong emotions—perhaps the barista at your coffee shop or a neighbor you don’t really know. Because we are often quick to judge others and categorize them as positive or negative in our lives, it can be challenging to identify someone whom we truly find neutral.
The fifth person is a hostile person, someone with whom you have conflict and who makes your life challenging.
Now, Sit Quietly
Come into a comfortable seated position. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Inhale in.
Exhale out. As you exhale, say out loud: May I be happy. May I be healthy and strong. May I be filled with peace.
Repeat this cycle five times.
Now, think of your beloved and respected individual. Let your heart fill with a sense of kindness and compassion as you send good will to the individual. Inhale. Exhale. Now, say out loud: May you be happy. May you be healthy and strong. May you be filled with peace.
Repeat this cycle five times. And then do the same thing for your loved one and then for your neutral individual.
The Hardest One
The fifth individual is the hard one, the challenging part of this exercise. As you think of them, allow your heart to soften. Recognize that they need compassion too and that conflict often arises from misunderstanding. Let your heart fill with a sense of kindness and compassion as you send good will to the individual.
Inhale. Exhale. Now, say out loud: May you be happy. May you be healthy and strong. May you be filled with peace.
Fill Your Heart with Love and Kindness
Now, sit with your breath. Inhale in, exhale out, and feel the love and kindness you are building within yourself and cultivating within your relationships. Just sit in the space of being calm and quiet. Try to carry that sense of calm, loving compassion with you throughout the rest of your day.
Set a commitment to practice this meditation each day for the next six weeks. Give it time to absorb into your heart and your mind, and pay attention to how you perceive yourself, how you perceive others, and how you perceive the world. Notice how different it feels when you approach the world with loving-kindness.
Tomorrow, we’ll finish our journey together by building a plan for your ongoing self-care, so you can continue to treat yourself with the love and kindness you deserve.
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