How Loving Kindness Meditations Can Help You
If you are ever feeling lonely, disconnected from people, hurt or overwhelmed, I recommend loving kindness meditation as a way to practice fostering a sense of kindness and caring towards yourself and others.
Loving kindness meditation is a method of developing compassion. Although it comes from the Buddhist tradition, it is truly universal, and can be adapted and practiced by anyone, regardless of personal belief or religious affiliation. Loving kindness meditation is essentially about cultivating love.
I use loving kindness meditations at the end of my relaxation training sessions, because I find people are more open to the idea of unconditional love after relaxing first with breathing, muscle relaxation and guided imagery. If you try to "go in cold" with loving kindness, you might feel some resistance, or question your ability to feel this deep love for yourself and others. However, if you "warm up" with some other relaxation techniques, by the time you get to the loving kindness meditation you will feel ready to at least experiment with feelings of love, caring, compassion and acceptance.
I posted the above photo on Facebook (I found it on a Facebook page called Landscape of Beauty) and I added this excerpt of a loving kindness meditation:
"Think of people everywhere, near and far. See children and adults living in the cities, towns and countryside around the world. All of them looking for happiness. All of them having goodness in their hearts. Feel that goodness within them—connect your heart to their hearts. Let your compassion, your warmth and your care, for all these human beings, flow from your heart, giving them a feeling of being safe, happy, at ease." — "Meditation on Loving Kindness" from the album "Uplifting Guided Meditation"
I sent this post out to many countries around the world and received a huge, positive response. I am not mentioning this to pat myself on the back—I was just struck by how hungry people are for this idea of loving kindness. Seeing that photo of all of those people forming a heart and reading the words about loving kindness touched something in them. All I did was put it out there.
We all experience stress, loneliness, disconnection and hurt, and I think loving kindness meditation gives us a chance to experience some healing, some relief from difficulties. Here are some loving kindness phrases to try if you are interested in how they might benefit you:
May I be safe and protected
May I be free from pain and suffering
May I be healthy and strong
May I be happy
Notice how these are phrased, using the word "may" as a wish, as an intention for feeling love and kindness. This is another reason I find loving kindness meditation so helpful—instead of commanding, like when people say "smile" or "be happy", it is gently wishing for positive things. If you are anything like me, you don't always respond well to commands—it feels much better to extend a wish. Here are some more phrases, this time expanding the meditation to include others:
May we all feel peace and ease
May we have love and warmth in our lives
May we all be happy, healthy and whole
Some people tell me that practicing loving kindness meditation gives them a feeling of warmth and openness, or a sense of connection. Some mention that it helps in their interactions with difficult people. Others say they experience a wonderful feeling of bliss. I find that it comforts me when I am overwhelmed by negativity in the world. There is something about opening the heart to loving kindness that can change our perspective and remind us that healing is possible.
May all beings love and accept each other.