Loving-Kindness Meditation, Create Your Own Magic!
Loving-kindness meditation is a self-care practice that promotes well-being and reduces stress. Practitioners can improve their capacity for self-acceptance, self-compassion, forgiveness, attachment to others, and so on if they do loving and kindness meditation regularly.
By reading this, you may feel that this technique is a piece of cake. Oh no, no, it is not easy. You are asking yourself to give kindness and love to yourself or others. Allowing yourself to receive love in order to give it out to others requires time and patience.
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What is Loving-kindness Meditation?
Loving and kindness meditation, also known as metta meditation in the Pali language, focuses on unconditional love, mutual love, and wisdom-filled love. Meditation on love aims to develop feelings of kindness, gentleness, goodwill, and warmth towards yourself and others. There are no terms and conditions; it does not depend upon the fact whether you deserve that love or not; it is not restricted to only family and friends; it includes all the living beings around us.
There are no expectations when you give that love. It is ideal and pure, which everyone has in them. Gratitude, compassion, and empathy are universal human emotions known to us all. In metta meditation, we begin by loving ourselves. We cannot give this love and kindness to others if we measure this unconditional love and acceptance. Therefore, we include those first who are unique to us and gradually all other beings. The visualisation and meditation phases have now blended into the experience, resulting in a feeling of love and compassion.
Kindness is a term that has several different meanings depending on who you ask. Meditation has many advantages, including improved well-being, illness relief, and emotional intelligence. The practise of metta meditation is practically a necessary and skilful antidote to different mental states.
How Do You Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation?
Loving-kindness meditation or metta meditation helps us practice care, concern, friendship, tenderness, love, kindness, a feeling of warmth for ourselves and others. The practice of meditation on love helps us to soften our mind and heart. Allowing us to open the deeper levels of the feeling of kindness, of pure love, care, and affection. Metta meditation aims to give without any expectations to receive back. The love and care come from a selfless place, where there is no sentimental feeling of goodwill, no obligations, or anything. It does not depend on our relationships, friendships, bonds, or how others feel about us.
The technique is quite simple. You must make time for yourself – even if it is just 7 to 10 minutes. Close your eyes, relax your muscles, stretch slightly, and take a few deep breaths. Consider yourself to be in a state of inner peace, physical and emotional well-being. Imagine feeling great just the way you are, enjoying yourself and thanking yourself for what you are and what you do for yourself every day. Concentrate on this sense of inner peace, and believe that you are exhaling tension and inhaling feelings of affection.
The first step is of softening, breaking down our walls and barriers, the one where we feel inwardly toward ourselves. Once we master that we can upgrade how we feel towards others. To practice, metta meditation chooses a cosy spot and takes a comfortable position. One of the aims of loving-kindness meditation is to feel good about yourself, and others so make your posture relaxed and comfortable. Now begin to focus on the area near your chest, your heart, your centre. Breathe in deeply and breathe out from that area. Breathe as if you are doing it from your heart, your centre, and as if all experience is happening from there. Anchor your mindfulness only on the sensations in your heart.
While breathing in and out from your heart starts to generate any feeling you feel toward yourself. Try to observe and feel any areas of mental blockages or numbness, self-judgment, self-hatred, etc. Now to overcome all of these, drop beneath to that place where you care for yourself, where you want strength, health, and safety for yourself.
As you continue to breathe in and out, use either the traditional metta prayer phrases mentioned below or create the ones you want for yourself. Say them out loud or simply think about them several times. You can repeat reassuring words to yourself.
Now for a few minutes, indulge in the feeling of warmth and self-compassion. If you get distracted or your mind wanders, gently guide it back to these feelings of love and kindness. Allow these emotions to envelop and embrace you.
While practising loving-kindness meditation, you can choose to keep this focus on yourself for the duration of your meditation or begin to shift your focus slowly to your loved ones in your life. You can start with someone very close to you, like your spouse, your child, any of your parents, or a best friend. Feel your gratitude and love for them in your heart. And stay with that feeling. To keep yourself focused, you may want to repeat the loving phrases.
Once you’ve held these feelings toward the person who you are close to, bring other important people from your life into your metta prayer, one by one. Picture them to be in full health and inner peace. Gradually, you can branch out to other friends, family members, neighbours, and acquaintances. You may even want to include groups of people around the world whom you don’t know but require love, care, kindness, and prayer.
Now extend your feelings of love and kindness to people all around the world and focus on a feeling of connection and compassion. When you can reach out to strangers, you can even include those with whom you are in conflict to help yourself reach a place of forgiveness or greater peace.
After a peaceful time, when you feel that your meditation is complete, open your eyes. Remember that you can revisit these wonderful feelings you generated throughout the day.
What is the Metta Prayer?
Metta Meditation or Loving-kindness Meditation is a basic but profound ritual. Begin by blessing yourself, then gradually extending your blessings outward, ultimately wishing good wishes not just for your close friends and family but also for the whole universe and all beings, including our enemies. This Buddhist Metta Meditation has many variations and translations, but its essence is significant. It is said that if we all chanted this prayer with conviction at least once a week, the world would be a very different place. The prayers are;
- Meditation on love fills my heart with loving-kindness. I love myself. May I be happy! May I be well! May I be peaceful! May I be free!
- May all people and beings around me be happy. May they be well! May they be peaceful! May they be free!
- May all the citizens of my city, my state, country, continent, hemisphere, and planet Earth be happy and content. May they be well! May they be peaceful! May they be free!
- May my parents have a happy life. May they be in excellent health! May they be free!
- Let all of my friends be cheerful. May they be in good health! May they be free!
- May all of my enemies be happy. May they be healthy! May they be at peace!
- If I have hurt someone, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word, or deed, I ask for forgiveness.
- I extend my forgiveness to anyone who has harmed me, whether purposely or unintentionally, by thought, expression, or deed.
- May all beings everywhere be content, whether near or far, known or unknown to me. May they be in good health! May they be peaceful! May they be free!
Does Loving-Kindness Meditation Work?
You focus on yourself as well as others during loving kindness meditation. Nothing comes easy, and similarly, metta meditation takes practice. At times, it can be difficult and even lead to resistance since an average person is not used to this level of giving or receiving love.
As for the answer to the question, metta meditation has many undocumented benefits. Some published studies have noted that the loving kindness meditation technique may be useful in managing a person’s social anxiety, anger, marital conflict, and coping with the strains of long-term caregiving. Another research suggested that loving kindness meditation can enhance brain areas involved in emotional processing and empathy to boost a sense of positivity and reduce negativity.
According to one study, just 7 minutes of loving kindness meditation made people feel more connected to one another, cultivate a better attitude toward their loved ones and complete strangers, and, most importantly, embrace themselves. This shows that doing a simple metta meditation can make us feel less isolated and more connected to those around us. There is no cost involved while practising loving kindness meditation. So if you decide to take this up, you’ve got nothing to lose except for a few minutes from your day, and in return, you’ll feel at peace.
Benefits of Loving Kindness Meditation
1. Positive Emotions Goes up, and Negative Emotions Goes Down
Even once a week for two months and the loving-kindness meditation will increase the love, joy, hope, contentment, interest, gratitude, amusement, pride, and awe. These positive emotions lead you to enhance your resources. For instance, you will see your purpose in life; there will be increased mindfulness, great social support, and decreased illness symptoms. This, in turn, will increase satisfaction in life and reduce depressive symptoms.
2. Enhances The Thoughts of Social Connection
Meditation may not be the solution for our severe physical and mental ailments, but studies suggest that it does help. As compared to a control group, individuals practising loving-kindness meditation intervention had more positive emotions and were feeling more socially connected to everyone.
3. Reduces Migraines
Even a short session of metta meditation can reduce migraine pain and relieve the emotional stress associated with chronic migraines.
4. Lessen the Chronic Pain
For people suffering from low back pain or arthritis pain, or any other chronic pain, love and kindness meditation lessens the effect. There can be a noticeable reduction in anger, depression, and psychological distress too.
5. Empathy and Psychological Processing are Activated in the Mind
The brain areas responsible for empathy and emotional intelligence are activated and strengthened by practising loving and kindness meditation on a regular or even weekly basis.
Metta meditation is said to boost your psychophysiology and make you more resilient.
6. Better Breathing
According to studies, only 7 to 10 minutes of loving-kindness meditation will instantly calm you. The oxygen will enter the lungs, and your breathing will be stable. Increased respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), a measure of parasympathetic cardiac regulation (i.e. the ability to relax and rest), and slowed (i.e. more relaxed) respiration rate would also be noticeable.
7. Slows Down Your Biological Aging
You will not need those anti-ageing creams or face lifting when you see the difference in your skin after practising loving kindness meditation. The metta meditation reduces your stress hormones, thereby making your skin glow and look radiant. You can throw out the expensive anti-ageing creams, cancel your dermatologist’s appointment, and get out your meditation cushion!
8. Makes You More Supportive Person
Don’t you think the name says it all? Loving kindness meditation improves your optimistic interpersonal outlook as well as your emotions. When you are at peace and stress-free, you will be more volunteers to help and, at the same time, will not be ignorant towards those who need your help.
9. Increases Compassion and Kindness
Self-compassion meditation and loving-kindness meditation both aim to bring out the loving side of you. Don’t restrain it, instead embrace it. This also increases your empathic response towards the distress of other people. Not only this, but it also increases your response to witnessing others in distress and looking at anything from a positive outlook.
10. Decreases Your Bias-ness Towards Other People
There are levels of metta meditation, and when you reach level three, you’ll realise that everyone is important to you equally. There is no bias or partiality between your loved one or an alien.
11. Self-Criticism is Minimized, and Self-Love is Promoted
Do you suffer from self-criticism or poor self-esteem? Also, are you the one who does not take proper care of yourself? Self-critical people will benefit from loving-kindness meditation because it decreases self-criticism and depressive symptoms while also growing self-compassion and positive emotions.
12. Even a Small Dose is Powerful
A small dose of loving-kindness meditation, lasting 7 to 10 minutes, can be highly beneficial. This is the best thing about metta meditation. No matter when you are practising it or how long you do it, the impact of love and kind mediation is almost immediate.
13. Helps in Long-Term Results
This quick gratification has long-term and long-lasting effects. The amount of minutes spent doing metta meditation daily correlates positively with optimistic emotions.
At the beginning of your first few sessions of practising loving kindness meditation, use yourself as the sole subject. With time when you get more comfortable with the imagery and affectionate phrases, you can start adding others’ visualisation during metta prayer and meditation.
Moving on to the tricky part, directing the loving kindness meditation towards those people in your life that give you a hard time and are not your favourite. This part of the metta meditation boosts feelings of forgiveness and helps you let go of the grudges for an increased sense of inner peace.
Lastly, metta meditation can be practised in many different ways. You can follow the method outlined above; you can take it as a base or a sample of how you have to start. You can even innovate and make your own loving and kindness meditation technique, the one that works best for you. You can expect the gains and benefits from this meditation as long as you focus your attention in a way that promotes feelings of loving-kindness.