This article will show how Loving Kindness Meditation can be very helpful and benefits according to Research and Scientists.
Moreover the article will guide you through the practice of Loving Kindness Meditation. How it can be useful for kids and for ourselves. Finally we will take a look how it is viewed in Buddhism.
What is loving-kindness meditation?
Loving kindness meditation is a major act of love. It is a meditation for profound healing of ourselves and others. More people are moving toward meditation for various reasons, some of which may be to preserve our individual and collective saneness, or recuperate our perception and sense of meaning, or purely to deal with the heinous stress and insecurity of this age.
Loving kindness is a meditation practice taught by the Buddha to flourish the habit of selfless or noble love. It is one which makes positive changes in attitude happen as it methodically develops the quality of ‘loving-acceptance’. It functions as some sort of self- psychotherapy; an approach to treating the disturbed mind to free it from its pain and confusion. Loving kindness has the instantaneous benefit of changing old negative patterns that the mind has the habit of creating.
This meditation uses words, images, and feelings to arouse a loving-kindness and friendliness toward oneself and others. With each phrases, we are communicating an intention, and planting the seeds of loving wishes over and over in our heart.
With a loving heart as the foundation, all that we strive for and come across, will open and flow easily. Loving-kindness is a Buddhist practice to develop unbiased and unrestricted love. Originally taught by the Buddha, it subsists in many ancient spiritual traditions. Feelings of loving-kindness come from visualization and affirmations which are spread out onto others.
Loving-kindness meditation is revealed to lessen frustration, rage and hatred, while refining tolerance and the capacity to forgive. This meditation is one of the most popular meditation methods around, and for good reasons. Those who practice loving-kindness meditation frequently are able to increase their ability to forgive, connect with others, and more. The stress relief facets of this meditation are strong as well.
What are the benefits of Loving-kindness meditation?
Increase in Positive Emotions:
If you are seeking to increase your happiness and well-being, loving-kindness meditation could be the practice for you. One study indicated that performing seven weeks of loving-kindness meditation augmented numerous positive emotions including love, joy, cheerfulness, appreciation, fulfillment, ambitions, amusement, and awe. These positive emotions then had a continuous effect on the participants, enhancing both life satisfaction and reducing depressive symptoms.
Shuts down your inner critic:
We all have an internal discussion and continuous chat that goes on inside our minds. For many of us, this voice inside our heads can be absolutely offensive. Research demonstrated that this critical voice can be controlled by practicing loving-kindness meditation. Apart from decreasing self-criticism and depressive symptoms, loving-kindness practitioners also encounter advances in self-compassion and positive emotions that were preserved 3 months after the meditation practice.
Strengthens your ability for empathy:
Because of recent improvements in the field of neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to constantly change all through an individual’s life), we, now, know that what we think, do, and pay attention to, alters the composition and functions of our brains. Frequently performing loving-kindness meditation has been proven to trigger and reinforce parts of the brain accountable for empathy. One of the most vital benefits of empathy is that it ameliorates relationships. More empathy can also lead to more kindhearted actions.
While meditation is not usually believed to be a cure for unbearable migraines, research shows that it actually can help. A quick loving-kindness session was proven to instantly help to decrease the pain and ease emotional tension linked with chronic migraines.
Love and compassion are needs, not luxuries. Humanity cannot survive without them. Scientists discovered that the great news is that loving-kindness meditation may be one of the most fruitful practices for increasing compassion. Being more compassionate has a lot of benefits, such as better health, well-being and relationships.
Increases Telomere Length:
In a different study, researchers found that women with involvement with loving-kindness meditation had comparatively longer telomere length (a biological marker of aging) than age-matched controls.
You sleep well:
When you go to bed with the feeling of loving-friendliness toward yourself and others, you will be stress-free and will sleep peacefully.
You also wake up feeling well:
When you get a good night’s sleep, you wake up feeling refreshed and peaceful. With a peaceful mind and body, you are capable of bonding with family, friends, and even strangers in a candid and focused way. You feel fresh, uplifted, and happy all day.
When you frequently perform loving-kindness meditation, you become tough enough to face whatever comes your way. In fact, the Buddha said that it is improbable that you will experience nightmares when you practice loving-kindness meditation.
Your face brightens up:
Loving-kindness meditation reflects on your face. As you practice it, joy rises. At first, it is hardly visible but as the joy increases, it starts to infiltrate your whole mind and body. Loving-kindness meditation does not depend on any specific time, place, or condition. Once stimulated, it can go on being existent in you for the rest of your life. Your face cannot hide what is going on in your mind. The vitality of loving-kindness meditation extends through your bloodstream and feeds your whole being. You look bright, clear, calm, and peaceful.
How to practice loving-kindness meditation?
The practice always begins with developing a loving-acceptance for you. If resistance is encountered then it shows that feelings of worthlessness are existent. This means that there is work to be done, as the practice itself is intended to overcome feelings of self-doubt or negativity.
There are four types of people to devote loving-kindness towards:
- A respected and beloved person such as a teacher
- A close family member or friend
- A neutral person, that is. Somebody you know but have no positive or negative feelings towards.
- A hostile person who is someone you are presently having difficulty with.
Starting with yourself, then systematically sending loving-kindness from person to person in the above order will have the effect of breaking down barriers between the four types of people and yourself.
There are also different ways to awaken feelings of loving-kindness, and they are:
- Visualization: Develop a mental picture. See yourself or the person toward whom the feeling is directed being joyous or smiling back at you.
- Reflection: Reflect on the good assets of a person and the deeds of kindness they have done. And to yourself, making a positive statement about yourself, using your own words.
- Auditory: This is the easiest way but perhaps the most productive. Repeat an internalized mantra or phrase. Usually, it is advised that you start with a mantra of some sort. When starting with yourself, you can use affirmations such as:
- May I be well and happy
- May I be peaceful and calm
- May I be protected from dangers
- May my mind be free from hatred
- May my heart be filled with love
Then you can start sending love to others using affirmations such as:
- May they be well and happy
- May they be healthy
- May they be at peace
- May they be free from pain and suffering
Once you have accomplished this for a few days or weeks and have grown used to the meditation itself, you can start trying diverse things out. You could:
- Picture beautiful imagery to implant a sense of love and peace within you
- Chant simple phrases, like the mantras listed above or simply say the mantra to yourself in your mind.
Taking the information above as the foundation for the meditation, here are the steps for practicing loving-kindness meditation:
- Have an image of the person in your mind. Make this image as clear as possible and feel a bond with the person.
- Create feelings of love. Chant/say your mantra to yourself or out loud while visualizing a beautiful imagery.
- Picture sending those feelings of love to the person. Let those feelings expand as far as they will go.
- Imagine conveying those feelings of love to the next person – from you to someone you respect/who cared for you, then to a friend/family member, then to someone neutral, then to someone you dislike, and finally to all beings.
The overall advice for beginning practice is to concentrate on each person for 3-5 minutes and producing love for them before shifting to the next person. If you do this, the meditation will take just 15-20 minutes.
- Sending love to yourself may feel uneasy. If this happens, do not worry, you are not alone. This is completely natural.
- You may not have a person to accomplish every stage. If that is the case, it is perfectly fine. Having someone for each stage is not a strict rule of this meditation. You can avoid the step as long as you actually have no one you can think of to fill in the blanks.
- Practice makes perfect. Not perfect with respect to your skill level, but perfect in terms of your comfort level and the effectiveness of the meditation.
- Add your personal touch. You can try different mantras, mix up the wordings and add those that induce feelings of love from you, and try different imagery.
Loving-Kindness Meditation for Kids
Loving-Kindness meditation is amazing for kids as it teaches them to fill their heart with love and kindness.
Bedtime offers a perfect window of opportunity to meditate with children. This shift in the schedule is already set up as a moment when we stop playing and working, dropping the hectic day, and preparing our minds and bodies for relaxing, resting and ultimately, for sleep.
Meditation, equally, is built to let go of working and to settle down back into quiet reflection. Many parents with young children also have well-built, pre-bedtime habits, so sliding a three to five minutes meditation into this pattern is relatively direct.
With kids, keep loving-kindness meditation short and simple. In its most simple form, loving-kindness meditation can employ three phrases:
- May ………… be healthy
- May ………….. be safe and protected
- May …………… be happy and peaceful
The three phrases appeal to types of people like:
- Someone with whom the child has a close relationship, such as a family member, teacher, caregiver, or friend
- An animal or aspect of the natural world, such as animals, rivers, mountains, or plants
- All beings, everywhere
Feel free to adjust this in any type of ways. You can adapt the sayings and increase the types based on your child’s development abilities. For example, you can send loving-kindness to people you do not know, for people suffering from a natural disaster.
For the first few nights, you can use a script until you get the hang of it. Then, craft the method that works best for you. Before you start, have your child select which family member or friend he or she would like to send loving-kindness to, as well as, one feature or animal from nature.
Here is an example of a script that you can use/ read (You should speak the following out loud)
“Take a long, deep breath in, starting way down in your tummy. Filling up, up, up! And, big exhale! And again, long breath in and exhale!
Now calming our bodies, letting them become soft and heavy, just melting into the bed. While feeling warm and cozy, everything is completely relaxed.
If you want, you can place one hand or both hands on your heart. Let us feel our heartbeats and imagine a warm, shining light, like the sunlight, that’s glowing from our heart. This heart light sparks with love and kindness.
Now let’s start with sending kindness to ourselves, remembering our own goodness. Think of something good that you did today.
Think of these phrases in your mind: May I be healthy, May I be safe and protected, May I be happy and peaceful.
(Narrate each line slowly. Pause for at least 5 seconds between phrases to allow time for the child to imagine or feel the connection and intention)
Now, we distribute our loving-kindness with grandma. Let’s imagine grandma sitting in her favorite chair next to the window; May grandma be healthy. May grandma be safe and protected. May grandma be happy and peaceful.
And finally, let our loving-kindness expand to all the rainforests in the world, with big trees providing fresh air for us to breathe and homes for many types of insects, and animals: May all rainforests be healthy. May all rainforests be safe and secure. May all rainforests be happy and peaceful.
We also need to send kindness, over the entire world, spreading up to the sky, and down to the earth.
May all beings be healthy. May all beings be safe and protected. May all beings be happy and peaceful. May all beings be awakened.”
This type of meditation enables children to get in touch with their feelings. It can help to lead them to send positive and healing energy to people and kids in other places- even those who have hurt them like a bully at school. This practice is exceptional since it goes outside cultural walls, economic situations, educational backgrounds, and geographic locations.
Loving-Kindness Meditation for Self:
How to overcome daily challenges with Loving-Kindness Meditation?
Life is a combination of many different things. Sometimes it is great- peaceful, and happy- other times it is crazy, hectic, and devastating.
For millions of people around the world, finding peace and happiness and learning how to better manage themselves during difficult situations equals to meditation.
Loving-kindness meditation is a strict meditation practice, but there is also an “everyday” version of it when you encounter daily struggles.
How to practice Everyday Loving-Kindness Meditation?
To practice “Everyday Loving-Kindness Meditation”, follow these simple directions (3-4 minutes total).
Before you start, ask yourself if this is an internal challenge (dealing only with you) or an internal-external challenge (a problem which has to do with you and others).
- Calm (1 minute): No matter the challenge, the first thing you should do is to take a second to calm yourself down. Become conscious of your breathing for a few seconds (10-15 at most) and then repeat this mantra to yourself for only a minute: “Be happy. Be at peace.”
- Generate love (1 minute): Next, visualize a close friend, family member, or mentor/teacher for whom you have a great deal of love (and preferably respect). Keep a picture of them in your mind for a minute or two and envisage those feelings of love and compassion for the person growing as much as they can.
- Send love to yourself (1 minute): Now, picture shifting those feelings of love and compassion for the person over to yourself. After doing so, you can repeat this mantra to yourself: “Be kind. Be compassionate. Be loving.”
If this is an internal challenge, stop here. If this is an internal-external challenge, continue to step 4
- Send love to the other (1 minute): Finally, do the same thing as in the last step except send those feelings of love from yourself to the person who you have disputed with (whether directly or mentally, such as when you notice having envy or jealousy for another).
When to use Everyday Loving-Kindness Meditation?
- You were dismissed from your job, or did not pass an exam.
Rehearse sending compassion and love to yourself and remember that you are only human, and that things cannot always work out how you imagine.
- You had a fight with a friend or family member.
This is not only hard for both people internally but also produces a lot of external tension. With loving-kindness meditation, you can forgive yourself, the other person, and inspire yourself to apologize, which often leads to the other person to open up and apologize as well.
- An expectation was not met.
In our daily life, we fill ourselves up with expectations. By knowing how to identify this expectation as well as send love and compassion to yourself and anyone else involved, we can help soften the pain of the situation.
There are various ways in which you can use Everyday Loving-Kindness Meditation to help you deal with personal challenges, challenges with others, and other challenges dealing with the everyday events.
What is Loving-Kindness in Buddhism?
In Buddhism, loving-kindness (Metta) is one of the Four Infinites taught by the Buddha. The other three are appreciative joy (Mudita), equanimity (Upekkha) (equal spread of feelings), and compassion (Karuna). Loving-kindness means that you want all beings to be well and happy. Not only the people you know and like, but all beings- including strangers, people who annoy you, even animals.
Loving-kindness means displaying kindness to others so that they will be well and happy. We show loving-kindness to others by wishing them to be well and happy. One way to show loving-kindness is to help other people. We also wish ourselves to be well and happy so that we can do good and help others.
We should also try to make animals well and happy. This is because animals are just like human beings because they also suffer pain and sadness.
Gautama Buddha stated that “like a caring mother holding and guarding the life of her only child, so with a boundless hear of loving-kindness, hold yourself and all beings as your beloved children.”
Metta is not the same as feeling good. We can feel good but still be rather egotistical and insensitive. It is not self-sacrifice also because a metta-full individual has the quality of appreciation, and appreciates themselves as well as others. Metta is also not about contradicting your experience. To practice Metta does not mean “being nice” in a false way. It means that even if you do not like someone, you can still have their welfare at heart.
Metta is an about recognizing that all sentient beings (that is, all beings that are able of feeling) can feel either good or bad. Metta is boundless. We can feel Metta for any being irrespective of gender, race, or nationality. Metta is also an acknowledgment of the most basic solidarity that we have with others. It is the will to see the world from another person’s point of view. Metta is an attitude rather than just a feeling. It is an attitude of friendliness.
The definition of loving-kindness in English dictionaries is a feeling of benevolent affection. But in Buddhism, loving-kindness is thought of as a mental state, taught and sustained by practice. This cultivation of loving-kindness is an important part of Buddhism.
True Metta is a lack of self-interest. It arouses from a warm-hearted feeling of camaraderie, kindness and love, which grows boundless with practice and kills all social, religious, racial, political, and economic barriers. Metta is indeed a universal, unselfish, and all-embracing love.
What is the Metta Prayer?
The Metta prayer of loving-kindness is a prayer used as part of a loving-kindness meditation. This kind of meditation and use of a mantra is widespread in the Buddhist tradition.
Metta talks about an unconditional love that exists without expecting anything in return. This is the love that develops through practice.
The metta prayer for loving-kindness often begins by using the self as the subject, then go on to be stretched out to other specific people, and finally, out to the whole world. With practice, it can turn into a holistic experience of love and kindness.
Here is an example of Metta prayer that you can use:
“May “all beings” be happy, healthy and whole.
May they have love, warmth, and affection.
May they be protected from harm, and free from fear.
May they be alive, engaged and joyful.
May “all beings” enjoy inner peace and ease.
May that peace expand into their world and throughout the entire universe.”
This prayer is customarily done for successively wider circles of people, with “all beings” replaced suitably. The first round would be for yourself, then those closest to you, then those who you feel neutral toward, then those with whom you have difficulties, and continuing outward until it includes all beings.
Prayer is an important part of many religious traditions, including Buddhism.
Through voicing out desires in words, we can bond with our beliefs more deeply, allowing us to hold them in our minds as we go about our daily life, and helping us to develop a stronger sense of belief.
So in order to bring more loving-kindness into your life, take a few minutes each day, to recite the Metta prayer. Saying words out loud make them feel more real to us, so if it is possible, say the words out loud; otherwise just say them inwardly.
Metta Bhavana is the Buddhist meditative practice of nurturing loving-kindness toward all beings. It can help to conquer hurt, bitterness, and anger towards others, as well as, developing self-love.
Does loving-kindness meditation work?
Loving-kindness meditation does more than just produce temporary positive feelings. This is because loving-kindness meditation increases the feeling of purpose, stronger social support, and decrease illness. It can also make us feel less lonely and more attached to those around us.
When we practice Metta, we start by guiding metta toward ourselves. This is the important base for being able to offer honest love to others. The vision into our inner world allows us to connect to everything around us, so that we can see quite clearly the unity of all that lives. By doing so, we eliminate all barriers.
These reflections open us to a whole world of happiness that may have been hidden from us before.
To conclude therefore, loving-kindness meditation can be of great benefit to anyone and everyone, even kids. In less than 10 minutes you will be able to feel the welfare of practicing this type of meditation. This shows that even if you have a busy lifestyle you can still fit this practice into your daily life. Moreover, without being a professional practitioner, you can effectively perform loving-kindness meditation and reap its benefits. Thus, go on and give loving-kindness meditation a try!
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