A simple way to make your life happier: Loving- kindness meditation

Posted on 2021-02-14 22:20:19

We live in a fast-paced world today. Every minute of our life, we are bombarded with sensations from the world around us. We wake up by looking at our smart phones, continue the rat race for money, and end the day by scrolling through social media until we fall into a stressful sleep. There is simply no time left for us to look inward.

As humans, we need to spend quality time with ourselves. When we don’t, it can lead to serious issues including restlessness, severe stress, and even suicide. According to Our World in Data, globally around 80,000 people die from suicide every year. And this number cannot be ignored. If we pay more attention to ourselves, stress and other negative feelings that may lead to suicide can be minimized drastically.

Loving-kindness meditation is one of the best techniques you can adapt to connect with your inner self and find peace within.

What is loving-kindness meditation?

Loving-kindness meditation (LKM), also known as Metta meditation is a popular Buddhist meditation technique. This technique teaches us to look inward and love ourselves, and those around us. Practicing loving-kindness meditation has scientifically proven benefits.

According to the Harvard Review of Psychology issue in 2018, loving- kindness meditations help those with borderline personality disorders and reduces chronic pains such as migraines. Some studies prove that loving-kindness meditation improves gratefulness, empathy, self-acceptance, and emotional wellbeing.

According to Buddhist teaching, this Metta meditation has a wide variety of benefits. Some of them are;

  • Feeling positive and content with life
  • Improving empathy
  • Making you a likable, helpful person
  • Decreasing social biases
  • Slowing the aging process
  • Feeling more connected to yourself and the people around you

These benefits are proven through various scientific studies as well.

How to do the loving-kindness meditation

Loving-kindness is a simple meditation technique. You can practice it for a few minutes and still reap the benefits.

To start the meditation, take some time off your day and find a quiet, peaceful place. It is preferable if there are no sounds or other distractions. Although it’s not going to be easy, you need to practice your mind to fully focus on yourself. So, you’ll have to ignore fleeting thoughts and pay attention to receiving and spreading loving kindness.

After you find a suitable place, sit comfortably. Make sure that your back is straight and your feet touch the floor. Proper positioning is important for the health of your body and will improve your respiration and blood circulation. Close your eyes and start gazing inwards. Take a long, deep breath and release, thinking that you’re letting go of all your stress and troubles.

Now take another deep breath and imagine yourself filling to the brim with all the love of the universe. Now, follow these three steps to give and receive loving-kindness.

Step 1: Visualize

Imagine a loved one standing next to you. It can be a living or deceased person. This person loves you with all their heart and wants the best for you. 

Step 2: Reflect

Reflect on the positive qualities of the person. Think about the things they have done for you. Imagine their love flowing towards you.

Step 3: Say the mantra out loud

After you receive loving-kindness from your loved ones, send back. Saying a mantra out loud is the most effective way to fully focus on sending loving-kindness. You just need to say these words out loud three times.

Just as I wish, may you have good health, happiness, and peace

Repeat the process and imagine sending loving-kindness to all the loved ones around you. Then, imagine sending loving-kindness to neutral people who do not have a strong connection to you. Finally, picture the earth as a globe and send your loving-kindness to every being. Finally, take a deep breath and release it to end the meditation. Then, if you feel ready, you can open your eyes.

Most of the time, loving-kindness doesn’t come easily or naturally. So, this meditation requires practice. For ease, this technique has been divided into four stages. You can master each stage one by one. Loving-kindness meditation has short term and long-term benefits. So, allocate even a few minutes of your day to purify your mind and you’ll start feeling better, immediately.

The four stages of the loving-kindness meditation

  1. Receiving and sending love to yourself
  2. Receiving and sending love to a close, loved one (alive or deceased)
  3. Receiving and sending love to a neutral person
  4. Receiving and sending love to a hostile person

While practicing this method, your mind will start sowing the seeds of self-acceptance, and eventually, you’ll be able to empathize and forgive even a hostile person. As the Buddhist teaching says; “Hatred can only ever be defeated by loving-kindness”. So, through spreading loving kindness to a hostile person, you will experience peace of mind.

Tips for effective loving-kindness meditation

  • Focus is key. Your mind will try to stray. Remember to come back to the meditation and continue until you feel that the meditation is complete.
  • Practice makes perfect. It’s not easy to start a new meditation technique. So, take your time and slowly adapt yourself. Overtime, you’ll start feeling comfortable with this technique.
  • Make it a regular practice. Take at least a few minutes of your day to practice loving-kindness.
  • Start sending loving-kindness to the more hostile people in your life. Guaranteed, this will make you feel so much better.
  • You can practice loving kindness in any way that you feel comfortable with. There are really no rules on how to perform this meditation. You can even practice the loving and kindness meditation before you go to sleep, in the shower, or even in a commute if you like. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is sending loving-kindness to everyone around you.

Final thoughts

Through practicing this meditation technique, your mental health will improve and you’ll start feeling more connected to yourself. So, to battle the negativities of life and move towards more positive, mindful living make loving-kindness meditation a part of your life.

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