We are changing gears this week.
For the last two weeks you have practiced developing your attentional muscles by focusing on your breath and your body sensations. You have practiced the great art of noticing.
In a loving kindness meditation – also referred to as a Metta meditation – we practice sending kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others. We do this by repeating phrases like: “May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be free from suffering”, and we direct these phrases to both ourselves and others.
I wrote in an earlier blog post that I struggled with this type of meditation when I first tried it. It felt a little strange and hokey at first, to “practice” being kind. Repeating kind phrases to myself had a Stuart Smalley effect – I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me – making it feel a bit like a joke at first. But when I stopped listening to that cynical little voice and did the work of practicing kindness and compassion, I found that I actually was becoming kinder and more compassionate.
But these qualities don’t always come naturally to us. It can be easy and perfectly human to slip into negative thought patterns towards ourselves and others.
Like the other meditations we have been doing, the loving kindness meditation is brain training to practice the qualities of kindness and compassion. As we practice generating feelings of kindness and compassion in meditation, we start to see these qualities spill over into our daily lives.
This is all about practicing opening to the good in us. We don’t need to pretend the bad doesn’t exist, we’re still human. We are just putting our energy into the good stuff. This can help us pay more attention to ourselves and others, and to develop a habit of being fully present when we are talking to people.
Just like the past two weeks, your mind will wander during this exercise. No worries! Just let go and begin again.
I recommend starting with the Sharon Salzberg Loving Kindness Meditation. It’s 15 minutes long… I know, I know, I promised 10 minutes, but if you can find the additional 5 minutes her instructions are particularly good for beginners. I also have a suggested 9 minute version from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Centre for days when you’re pushed for time.
Lovingkindness Meditation – Sharon Salzberg
Loving Kindness Meditation – UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Centre
NOTE: You can’t play the full meditations using the links above, you’ll need to use the Insight Timer app to access the full recording. I’m just sharing the links above so you know what you’re searching for. It’s easiest to find the meditations by searching the teachers name.
Tell me what you think, send me your questions or share comments with the group. I’m here to help!
Have a great week. May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.