Week 9. Loving-Kindness Meditation Copy

The Loving-Kindness Meditation is a practice tied in with self-love, empathy, understanding, and kindness.

The Dhammapada says, “Hatred cannot coexist with love and kindness. It dissipates when supplanted with thoughts of love and compassion.” Loving-kindness meditation or ‘Metta’ meditation is an ultimate form of generous and selfless love towards ourselves and others.

‘Metta’ is a Pali word for benevolence, friendship, affection, and kindness. This form of meditation is one of the most soothing ways of putting together and practicing the four qualities of love – friendliness (Metta), appreciation and joy (Mudita), compassion (Karuna), and equanimity (Upekkha).

Loving-kindness meditation is free from any expectations or bindings. We do not do it for accomplishing a goal or proving a point; it is merely a process to experience and enjoy.

Metta meditation usually starts with the self, as Buddha said ‘unless we treat ourselves with love and compassion, we cannot reflect the same on others.’ Once we start experiencing self-love and self-compassion for ourselves, we can show the same to others too.

With love and kindness meditation comes self-compassion, increased focus and attention, and a deep sense of emotional strength that balance our thoughts and actions.

In early practices, loving-kindness meditation was a way of self-healing, sweetening, and pacifying the mind, and it produced positive feelings towards everything around us (Salzberg, 1997).

Mindfulness-based self-love practices such as loving-kindness meditation, compassion exercises, and sensory awareness techniques are becoming more popular day by day.

Background studies and literature reviews on mental health and meditation suggest that these practices, alone or in combination with other forms of therapy and treatment, enhance brain activities related to emotional regulation, stress management, and immune functions (Grossman and Van Dam, 2001).

Some neuroimaging studies indicated that compassion meditation (CM) and loving-kindness meditation (LKM) regulate the functioning of the limbic system, a brain site that is in charge of processing emotions and empathy. Studies have proved that LKM is equally useful for the clinical population and can be used as a part of extensive cognitive and behavioral retreats (Lutz et al., 2009).

Loving-kindness meditation soothes the mind and reduces subjective feelings of suffering. Traditional Buddhist practices in different parts of the world consider this practice as a pathway for cultivating happiness, appreciation, satisfaction, and ultimate acceptance (Bodhi, 2005; Shen-Yen 2001).

With loving-kindness meditation comes a profound spiritual transformation and the urge to reflect on our positive emotions (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).

Studies on how loving-kindness affect the brain showed that Tibetan monks who had over 10,000 hours of loving-kindness meditation practice had strangely secure neural circuits for self-understanding and empathy. They displayed a higher degree of self-contentment and inner joy than non-meditators or non-practitioners of loving-kindness meditation.

Further studies in this field showed that during loving-kindness meditation, insula and parietal juncture, brain sites that link perception and emotions, get activated faster than in other forms of meditative practices. Both these areas create the capacity to feel and vent out feelings in a desirable way, which explains why loving-kindness meditation lits up true happiness and self-satisfaction.

Repeating kind words to ourselves such as “May you be well,” “May you be happy,” “May you be healthy,” etc., infuse a deep sense of self-worth instantaneously. During loving-kindness meditation, all we need to do is commit to some dedicated moments of appreciation, gratitude, and encouragement, first to ourselves and then to others.

The practice has a long-lasting impact on our mind and our body and kick-starts a ripple effect of positivity that is truly empowering.

Please download the audio for this meditation and try it at least 3 times. Afterwards, you can do the meditation by yourself and also add new mantras that might resonate more with you.

Please send us your conclusions!

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