This new Loving-Kindness meditation, originating from Buddhist meditation, could be the world’s answer to stress in 2021
Meditation is a wholesome technique to practice self-love, empathy, understanding and kindness, all while improving your mental health.
The practice of Meditation has grown in popularity, which is no surprise given the hardship the world endured in 2020.
There a various types of meditation practices including spiritual, mindfulness, chanting and visualisation meditation. But the Loving-Kindness meditation is a new method that that involves self-love and generosity to ourselves and others.
What Is Loving-Kindness Meditation?
This meditation practice is also known as ‘Metta’ meditation. ‘Metta’ is derived from a Pali word for benevolence, friendship, affection, and kindness. The Pali language is a classical and liturgical language of the Theravāda Buddhist cannon from the north Indian origin.
The meditation is an all-inclusive simple process that anyone can practice, anywhere, at any time. The focus is to experience self-love and self-compassion to ourselves and then hopefully to others. It is one of the most flexible meditation techniques.
And the outcome? Feeling self-love and worth can stick with a person for a lifetime, in which they have the ability to encourage and pass the process on to others.
According to Science Director, Stanford Centre For Compassion And Altruism Research And Education, Dr. Emma Sepala, the Loving-Kindness meditation increases happiness and overall well-being as it makes a person feel closer and more connected to one another, therefore increasing one’s mental health.
Put simply, “Loving-Kindness is good for you, it makes you feel happy, less focused on yourself, more connected to others and all of those things are good for your psychological and physical health”, Dr. Sepala explained.
The Benefits Of Loving-Kindness Meditation
Less self-criticism, more positive emotions
It’s no surprise that positive reinforcement produces positive emotions and filters out the negative ones. According to a study, by practicing meditation positive emotions such as love, joy and gratitude gradually turn into personal resources including increased mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, decreased illness symptoms. This means a decrease in self-destructive thoughts and depressive symptoms.
It’s a healing device
Similar to reducing negative emotions and depressive symptoms, practicing loving-kindness can decrease migraines, chronic pain and even PTSD. This is due to positive reinforcement of self-love and worth that can also decrease emotional tension.
Increases social connection
According to a study where participants practiced the loving-kindness meditation interventions, reported to experience more positive emotions which in turn positively increased the perception of social connection. Additionally, social connection also benefits an increase of compassion, empathy and a decrease in bias towards others.
How To Practice Loving-Kindness Meditation
Another great benefit of the meditation is that it is very flexible – it can be practiced anywhere at any time.
It’s good to start with repeating phrases using yourself as a subject, for example, “May I be well,” “May I be healthy,” “May I be at peace,” etc. which can instantly radiate a deep sense of self-worth and love.
After a while, the phrases can progress to direct the same love and kindness to family and friends. The phrases for example could be, “May you be well,” “May you be happy,” “May you be healthy,” etc.
Additionally, it is essential to practice loving-kindness with subjective comfort. This includes, choosing the posture for meditating, where to meditate, wearing comfortable clothes and preventing distractions such as phones and televisions
Although there is no right or wrong way to practice the meditative process, PositivePsychology.com provides 3 effective and simple mantras and scripts to help with where to start:
Loving-Kindness Meditation Scripts:
1. Self-Oriented Loving-Kindness Meditation Script
This 15-minute meditation focuses on self-understanding and unmitigated self-love.
Below is a brief portrayal of the method:
- Choose a comfortable position where you can sit with your back straight and eyes closed.
- Repeat the words to yourself in silence, and complete awareness – “May I be peaceful,” “May I be happy,” “May I be safe.”
- Pause for a while to contemplate what the words truly mean and try to gauge how they are making you feel inside.
- Take your own time to do this and remember that there is nothing right or wrong here.
- After you finish repeating the words, end your practice by saying – ‘May I and everyone else be peaceful,’ ‘May I and everyone else be happy,’ ‘May I and everyone else be safe.’
2. Loving-Kindness Meditation for Others
Empathising with other people is vital for self-enhancement and by sending the same love, goodwill and acceptance to others fulfils the spirit of loving-kindness.
Below is a short 10-15 minute script of the practice to reach out to people who you love or even people you dislike or even a group of people:
- Choose a comfortable place with minimum distractions where you can practice this meditation.
- With eyes closed, back straight, and the mind aligned to the present, think of someone you love, someone you don’t like, a stranger, and a group of people you spend time with every day.
- Keeping all of them in mind, repeat the following words to yourself in silence and complete awareness – ‘May you be happy,’ ‘May you be safe,’ ‘ May you be healthy,’ ‘May you be at peace.’
- Take as much time as you need to repeat the words. You only have to make sure that you say them after realizing what they mean and feeling them from inside.
- Once you have finished repeating the words, end the session by saying, ‘May you and I be happy,’ ‘May you and I be safe,’ ‘May you and I be healthy,’ ‘May you and I be at peace.’
3. Guided Meditation for Loving-Kindness and Compassion Prayer
Alongside love, kindness and empathy, compassion and awareness are also key elements of the practice to radiate positive within ourselves and others. This 15-minute prayer allows you to think about someone you feel emotionally connected to.
Below are the steps to the practice:
- Find a comfortable posture – ideally sitting straight or lying on your back. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Bring your mind and body into a calm state and try to feel your contact with the surface on which you are sitting/lying.
- Once you feel relaxed and aware of the present moment, start thinking about someone with who you share an emotional connection – it may be your spouse, children, parents, or friends. Notice how you feel as you start thinking about this person for who you feel so strongly.
- Next, wish something good for that person and you could use words like – ‘I wish all the happiness for you’, ‘I wish that you never have to suffer’, ‘I wish that you are always loved’, ‘I wish you know that I will always be there for you’.
- As you wish such beautiful things for the person, try to imagine yourself telling this in person, and think about how the other person would have reacted to your prayers.
- Do this as a daily practice. You can choose different persons for each session or think about the same person every day. The choice is entirely yours to make.
- After each session, journal your experience and observe how you feel. When this meditation becomes a part of your daily life, you naturally feel more affectionate and loving towards yourself and others and internalize the positivity readily.